Effingham Co. superintendent responds to school lunch concerns - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Superintendent responds to school lunch policy concerns

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Effingham County School District Superintendent Dr. Randy Shearouse Effingham County School District Superintendent Dr. Randy Shearouse

A story out of Utah has a lot of parents here talking.

WTOC reported on a school in Salt Lake City, in which a cafeteria worker tossed a fifth-grader's lunch because she didn't have money in her account. Instead she was given an alternative lunch of fruit and milk.

WTOC's Facebook page was filled with comments. People said the same thing happens here. One viewer mentioned this had happened in the Effingham County School District.

WTOC asked the Effingham Co. Superintendent Monday how schools would handle that same situation: a hungry child, with no money to pay for lunch.

He said while there is no district wide policy, it is up to each school principal.

Superintendent Dr. Randy Shearouse said the district allows students to borrow money from the front office the first few times he or she forgets lunch money.

"Everyone does forget from time to time. I certainly did as a parent," said Shearouse. "It's nice that the schools can provide a couple, three times. Where they'll let the child borrow money."

Even if a student has to get an alternative lunch such as a peanut butter and jelly or cheese sandwich, teachers try to stay on top of which students need that before they get in line at the cafeteria.

"I think most of that is taken care of up front, and only when a child has borrowed several times without paying it back would they have to get that alternative lunch," said Shearouse.

Shearouse said the lunch program is a self funded department, and can't allow parents to make a habit of not paying.

"Ultimately, we have to have money to operate. We need parents to help us out in that manner," said Shearouse. 

The district prefers to allow each school to work out issues like this on a case-by-case basis.

"You look at your leaders at the school level, they may know of a situation that a child is under. They may allow a child to borrow money more times than two or three times based on that child's situation, so you really like your school leaders to make those decisions because they know the kids better than we would if we just have a district wide policy."

Students who qualify can be a part of the free and reduced lunch program. The district currently has an estimated 42 percent of students on the program.

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