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Rhode Island School District Backpedals After Its Decision To Serve Students Who Owe Money A Cold Food-Only Lunch Sparks Controversy

A Rhode Island school district is punishing the children of families who can't afford to pay for their cafeteria lunches by serving them cold sandwiches.


Warwick Public Schools outlined in a Facebook post that if money is owed on a paid, free or a reduced lunch account, that student will be given a "sun butter and jelly sandwich" every day until the balance is paid in full.

The effective policy that starts on Monday is angering parents for its apparent lunch-shaming tactic.

The Associated Press said that Warwick Public Schools is owed $40,000 from outstanding lunch payments and are unable to absorb the costs.


Some of the infuriated parents wrote on the WPS's Facebook post about the extent to which the school went to receive payments.

"I got three letters for .05 cents owed," one parent wrote.

"Finally I taped a nickel to the paper and sent it in. Really they need to chase a nickel!"

Another was notified by three different methods of correspondence.

"If this policy goes into effect May 13, why did I already get a notification April 24 via email, phone, and paper letter saying this policy was already in effect when my child had a $-0.65 balance?"

People had conflicting recollections about free lunches when they were younger.




The AP added that the school district turned down a $4,000 donation from a local restaurant twice and instead asked the donor to take applications to decide who will receive the money.

Local business owner Angelica Penta said she tried to raise money for the students unable to pay for their lunches and her patrons were more than willing to contribute to the cause.

Penta told CNN:

"I gave $4000 to West Warwick Schools on January 8th, and then I tried to give additional money to Warwick Schools, but they denied the check."

WSP issued a statement, telling CNN they had concerns about how to divide the money.

"The business owner has maintained a position that they want to make a single, large donation to the district while leaving the student selection process to the school department."
"This is a position that the school department cannot support given the school's mission to treat all children equitably."


Speculations about mismanaged money benefiting athletic programs proliferated on Twitter.





One offended parent said that the policy shames the students, who have no control over the situation.

Warwick Public Schools/Facebook


Warwick Public Schools/Facebook

Another parent likened the district's decision of "starving children" to that of a concentration camp.

Warwick Public Schools/Facebook




The system is flawed if it is the child who winds up suffering.