State board wants better communication about school lunch accounts
Lunch • Schools will get to comment before new state model policy passes.
Published: April 4, 2014 07:45PM
Updated: April 4, 2014 08:46PM

School districts and charter schools from throughout the state will have a chance to comment before a model school lunch policy is approved by the state Board of Education .

The board voted Friday afternoon to send the policy out for comment, but member Keith Buswell said there’s no reason a district or charter school can’t write its own policy right away.

Gov. Gary Herbert asked the board to create a model policy for schools to use in the wake of a fiasco at Salt Lake City’s Uintah Elementary this winter. In January, cafeteria workers took lunches from several dozen children who didn’t have enough money in their accounts to pay for the meals.

They tossed the food in the garbage and gave the children fruit and milk instead, on the orders of a Salt Lake City district staffer.

The model policy likely will be approved by the state board at its May meeting.

District and charter schools are not required by law to spell out how parents pay for meals or what happens when their accounts are delinquent. Nonetheless, they’re being encouraged to have such policies. The model suggests schools provide clear communication with parents and never put the child into the position of being embarrassed about a lack of money in his or her meal account.

Board member Jefferson Moss said he, too, has had a delinquent account for his daughter in the past. He hopes schools will offer parents a way to automatically cover delinquencies, sort of like overdraft protection on a checking account.

In his case, his daughter forgot to tell her parents that her account was low, he said. “A lot of these are not because they don’t have the means to pay. It’s because their kids aren’t remembering to tell them,” Moss said.

kmoulton@sltrib.com

Twitter: @KristenMoulton