This letter was written by one of our school board members, Mageen Caines, who has worked on the school lunch debt policy. Director Caines is serving a term until 2025.
A parent recently asked us about the conversations happening statewide around school lunch debt. I appreciated the conversation itself and also her request that we share our conversation with the wider school community.
We do not take lunches away from students, limit their food choices, or shame students.
St. Anthony - New Brighton Schools has a school lunch debt policy that is up to date with the MN Attorney General’s recent decision mandating that no child can be denied lunch or given a substitute lunch due to lunch debt (Policy 534). We agree wholeheartedly. In fact, this has been our practice for several years.
We want parents and students to know that you will always be allowed to take a lunch. You may take two lunches or extra apples – by policy and practice, we are not going to remove food, comment on debt, or otherwise shame a student eating in our district. A fed learner is a ready learner and we are committed to providing your student with nutritious choices to support their learning throughout the day.
We often get asked how parents/guardians or community members can help make sure that student lunch debt is paid off. We are so grateful for the partnership and sense of taking care of each other this represents. We do sometimes have school lunch accounts that have not been paid and parents and community members interested in helping can pay those down.
We can accept these donations a couple of ways:
- Private donation – you can contact a staff member or the district office and let them know you’d like to make a donation for that purpose
- Another way is to donate to our Community Fund and let them know that is your goal. The Community Fund is a way to connect community donations with staff-identified needs and this group has been a resource in the past.
Advocate for universal lunch at the legislative level
Our school board supports universal lunches for students. There are several state legislative proposals to provide universal lunch for students so that all students will be offered food during the school day paid for by the state instead of individual student accounts. If this is something you are interested in, please do not hesitate to reach out to our legislators and let them know you support universal school lunch!