Reporting Steve Pickett
RICHARDSON (CBSDFW.COM) - A Richardson mom says she cannot believe what her children were served for lunch at school. Jazmie Spencer’s sent her two kids to school without a lunch, under the assumption they were enrolled in the Richardson Independent School District’s free/reduced lunch program.
Due to a problem with the paperwork, her children were denied a hot lunch and Spencer thinks the meals they were provided — two pieces of bread and a slice of cheese — were not nearly enough.
“Why would they deny a child to eat when you throw it in the trash anyway?” questions Spencer.
The school district calls the cheese sandwich an “alternate meal.” If a student is not on a free and/or reduced lunch list, or isn’t on a payment plan, they must bring their own lunch, or receive the sandwich.
“We have children who come in and they’re expecting a meal and sometimes they don’t get it…and we will have to take the meal away and give them a cheese sandwich,” said Richardson ISD’s Child Nutrition Services Director Rose Ann Martin.
Right now, about half of all Richardson ISD students are eligible for free and reduced lunch. But it’s the federal government who finances it. Martin points to government regulations that prohibit serving free lunch to ineligible students, which is why Spencer’s children were not served a hot lunch.
“In that regulation, no district can incur bad debt. So we as a school district can’t allow to give away federal funds,” said Martin.
Spencer says her children qualify for meal assistance, and she’ll prove it. She says she will never understand why a school system would deny any child a hot meal for any reason.
All Richardson ISD students regardless of status could receive free lunch for the first 30 days of the school year. After that time, students who did not have paperwork on file to prove their eligibility were denied free lunch. Richardson ISD’s neighbor, Dallas ISD offers free lunch for all its students. Federal rules allow DISD to do so because 90-percent of its students are eligible for free and reduced lunch service.
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