The Cherry Hill school district in New Jersey passed a new policy Tuesday that will allow principals to ban a student from purchasing tickets for school dances, prom included, if their lunch debt exceeds $75, NBC News reports.
The punishments that can be levied through this policy, which includes both high school and middle school, extends to participation in extracurricular activities. After-school events, field trips, and the opportunity to purchase a yearbook can all be withheld from a student until their debt is settled.
Cherry Hill Public School District Superintendent Joseph Meloche issued a statement in August following criticism of a proposed plan to give tuna sandwiches to students with a lunch debt over $10 and no meal at all to those who owe $20 or more.
"Simply erasing the debt does not help those who need support and compassion and meals through the Free & Reduced Meal Programs," Meloche wrote. "Simply erasing the debt does not address the many families with financial means who have just chosen not to pay what is owed."
In 2017, the district erased the $25,000 school lunch debt, but it has since risen again to $18,000.
While the Cherry Hill school district looks for ways to punish students over lunch debts, California governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill earlier this month that hopes to end "lunch shaming" by requiring that schools provide a "state reimbursable" meal to all public school students "even if their parent or guardian has unpaid meal fees."
Governor @GavinNewsom had the honor to meet Ryan Kyote last week. This amazing young man saved his allowance and used it to pay his classmates’ lunch debt. For Ryan, it was just wrong that some kids couldn’t afford to eat lunch. He’s right about that. #CaliforniaForAll pic.twitter.com/4DIse1OEGo— Office of the Governor of California (@CAgovernor) August 9, 2019