FORT MYERS, Fla. - This all started a couple of weeks ago when a man contacted FOX4 saying his granddaughter got her hot meal taken away from her and instead....she was given a piece of cheese between two pieces of bread. We wound up running four stories and over 60,000 people viewed them on Facebook. As a result of all that, the district has changed its policies.
(Culbreth): If they go through the line they're getting a hot meal? "That's right," said Dr. Nancy Graham, the superintendent of the Lee County School District. (Culbreth): You're not throwing any hot meals away anymore? "No sir, we're not". (Culbreth): Ok. "Absolutely not".
That's policy change number one; No more taking hot meals away from kids and throwing them in the garbage just because they don't have the money in their account to pay for it. "Once the child's in the line and they've got that lunch in their hands, they're gonna get that lunch," Dr. Graham reiterated.
If a child doesn't have money in their account, the first time the child will be given a hot lunch. But then policy change number two; A parent is to be notified. "A lot of I think what's gone on is the cafeteria staff has just sort of dealt with it because they're the ones who know who has money and who doesn't," explained Dr. Graham. "But I don't know that we did that extra step and we actually made contact with those families. So, now the direction is.....you're going to start talking to those families".
Policy change number three; If, after several times, a child doesn't have money in their account they will know that before they go through the hot lunch line. Dr. Graham told her principals, "You need to take care of that child before they ever get in line if you're going to give them something other than the regular lunch".
Dr. Graham says the changes will be good for other reasons, "If two or three days in a week a child doesn't have money for lunch and doesn't have money with them, something's up. So, you need to find out what's up".
She says that can also help administrators find out about other problems they should know about. "I know that when I was a principal, that at least two or three kids I found out at the time they were homeless," Dr. Graham recalled.
Dr. Graham says the changes may take some time because principals still have to put a plan in place. She also says parents can and should monitor and keep track of how much money is in their children's accounts by going to; "MyLunchMoney.com". Parents can set an amount where they get notified when their balance drops below that amount.
What do you think? Is this policy change enough or should even more be done? Call us at (239) 206-FOX4. Or send us an email to www.News@FOX4now.com.