Students of all ages deal with immense pressure in school, from harassment and bullying to socializing and coursework, and everything in between.
The last thing a pupil needs is for a classmate to see his or her family is having financial difficulty.
So when it comes time for youngsters utilizing the district’s free or reduced lunch program each day, subjecting that student to potential humiliation could be detrimental.
The National School Lunch Program, which is federally funded, reimburses the school district for each meal served, according to district business administrator Liz George.
The district’s program highlights confidentiality to eliminate the anxiety a student might feel when purchasing lunch by way of a point of sale system.
Each student is given a pin number–similar to that of an ATM account, George said–which allows them to access their school account on the point of sale system. Students can also use their fingerprint to access the account.
When this is completed, the student’s account balance appears on the screen, George said. For a student utilizing the free or reduced program, a balance will still appear, and nothing recognizing the student’s status will show up on the screen.
Parents of paying students have the ability to fund the accounts by sending in a check or paying online. “It’s very normal for students to go through the line with no money changing hands,” George said.
George said 73 students utilized the program in the 2011-12 school year.
“From an overall perspective, it is low,” George said. “But the number is slightly up from previous years.”
George said there were 62 and 58 students using the program in 2010 and 2011, respectively.
All families are eligible to fill out an application for the program and enrollment is ongoing. The application can be found at the wtschools.org website.
During tough economic times when families–even in affluent areas like Washington Township–are feeling the pinch, at least they won’t have to worry about their children facing problems at the lunch table.