(Seguin) -- The Seguin ISD is working to erase any possibility of lunch shaming in it's schools. Lunch shaming isn't a local term, or a term that specifically refers to local lunchrooms or local cafeteria workers. The words "lunch shaming" are generally used to describe a practice that has occurred across the country. It describes any embarrassment a child might endure when they don't have enough money in their meal accounts to cover the cost of that day's meal. Much of that embarrassment in the past has been to throw away a lunch tray that is already in the hands of the child, and then replacing that with a sack lunch, or now in the Seguin ISD replacing it with a sandwich tray, which includes a sandwich, chips, fruit and milk.
Seguin ISD Superintendent Matthew Gutierrez say to help prevent any more students, at least in the Seguin ISD, from having to experience any practice that might be considered lunch shaming, the Seguin ISD Board of Trustees voted Tuesday night to give parents just a little more time to pay up. School district extends grace period for student with negative balance lunch accounts
"So we moved from a policy that had a grace period of two meals which doesn't give the campuses a lot of time to communicate with parents. Now to where we're looking at a number, a dollar figure of $30 which is basically 10 meals. I think that's a huge improvement and is going to allow us to really develop an aggressive plan. That's going to help us communicate better with parents, put in place some proactive measures. I think since this discussion has already been happening since about October, November, there's already been an improvement in the communication," said Gutierrez.
The approval by the board, however, was not unanimous. Declaring her lone vote of dissent was Trustee Elaina Reihl. Reihl who has been one of the most vocal supporters in helping to find a solution, debated that the district provide even more time for parents to pay -- perhaps even up to a month. Reihl says with many people getting paid once a month, she felt that it would be more logical for most families.
Dr. Gutierrez says he's confident that the district will be able to implement a better plan to help address some of these issues at the lunch line.
"What we're talking about is really just a small number of kids who have a situation change at home that may get them in that category of having a balance on their lunch account. We really want to do a good job of identifying those kids if they have had a situation change at home. That might qualify them for reduced or free lunch and have an opportunity to work with parents to ask them questions, to ensure that they have access to an application. But I think that our policy is much more family friendly now, because we've gone from a grace period of two meals to 10, which really allows us, if you look at 10 meals, 10 days, that's two weeks," said Gutierrez.
District officials say they hope families become more proactive in ensuring that their child's accounts don't go empty. He says now that the district has approved a policy, then it can now begin to develop and implement a better procedure for students at all campuses.