ES-M district limits students' charged lunches

By Zachary V. Zagger

Colton Bready is a student in the East Syracuse-Minoa School District, and his mother said he has gone through schooldays and taken important tests without eating lunch. And it was not due to a lack of hunger.

It was because he forgot his lunch money. A new policy at ES-M, implemented over the summer, is putting restrictions on the number of times a student can charge his or her lunch. Students are provided a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and milk if they have used up their charges, but some students are humiliated at being denied a hot lunch and go hungry.

Two months into the school year under this new policy, outraged parents voiced their concern over ES-M's new limits on charging lunches during the Oct. 22 school board meeting at Minoa Elementary School. The parents complained that the policy, which prohibits charging completely in the high school, was causing students to go through the school day and any after school activities without a meal.

Seeking consistency

ES-M changed its policy over the summer to be more consistent with other schools in the state, board president Randy Rupe said. Before this year, there were no limitations on the number of lunches a student could charge and Rupe said students were taking advantage of the system. The District looked into what the policies were in other schools in the area and the board decided to make the change.

"That's a policy that was way, way behind," Rupe said, "how it was like at other school districts and the prices that we charge, so all of that is updated."

The policy is not intended to punish students for forgetting their money but rather stop students from abusing the system.

"There were a lot of charges that weren't getting paid," said deputy superintendent Dr. Thomas Neveldine, "and there was a significant amount of money owed to the district."

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