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Some Georgia students with lunch debt will get cheese sandwiches

A school district in Decatur, Georgia, said it would have to give students who fall behind on lunch payments "alternative meals."
A cafeteria worker prepares a meal in a Georgia elementary school
Posted at 9:46 PM, Jan 24, 2024

City Schools of Decatur, a school district in Decatur, Georgia, says it will serve alternative meals to students who accrue too much debt from unpaid meals.

In a Jan. 9 email to parents and guardians, City Schools of Decatur said middle and high school students would be permitted to charge a maximum of three meals, "equivalent to $10.50 per student for the entire school year."

If a student exceeds this limit, the school says it will provide an "alternative lunch" consisting of a cheese sandwich and milk.

The change would go into effect in February, the district said.

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Students eating lunch in the cafeteria in New Mexico.

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The new program works like SNAP benefits, and gives families $120 per eligible child for summer grocery shopping.


The school district said its independently-funded nutrition program has incurred a shortfall of more than $88,000 in lunch costs following the end of COVID-era program that federally funded meals for public school students. The district said it had continued to allow students to get regular-price meals after the program ended, even if they had an outstanding balance on their account.

Now the district is asking enrolled families to pay outstanding balances.

After the story broke, the public began an independent drive on GoFundMe to help address the district's outstanding lunch costs. In less than two days, the campaign has accrued more than $70,000 dollars.