Lancaster County school makes sure every child gets a tray of food at lunch

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In Lancaster County, a school district is making sure every student has a school meal, regardless of how much money is in their account.

Can you imagine your child in tears?  Most likely embarrassed because he or she didn’t get the same lunch at school as others?  In Central PA, administrators have a systematic approach to keeping students fed.  If a student’s account doesn’t have enough money to cover a meal, elementary students may still charge one breakfast meal and three lunch meals.  Secondary students may charge one lunch meal.  If the student’s account is not in good standing, and he or she has charged their allowable meals, food services will provide an alternate meal made up of a cheese sandwich and fruit juice.

Hempfield School District Food Services Director, Brian Rathgeb says, “We want every child to have the lunch of the menu.  We don’t want to have to offer an alternative lunch because there’s a negative account.”

In addition, when accounts are running low or are underfunded, the cashier will hand the student a lunch envelope and not how much money is remaining in his or her account.  A letter will also be mailed home to indicate the insufficient balance.

The district also has an online meal payment system.  It allows parents to create a free account to view student purchases and receive automatic account alerts.  Parents can also deposit money in their child’s account.

The website is

1 Comment

  • Charlotte Evans

    Is it just me, or does this whole policy seem a bit stupid? Children need to eat, and while I am perfectly okay with the idea of parents paying for their kids' lunches, shouldn't the schools have a better way of handling the situation when, for whatever reason, accounts fall low and parents are behind? The school district has staff dedicated to nutrition of students, as I recall. Can't they figure out something better than a cheese sandwich and fruit juice as a strategy when a student's account is an issue? And isn't it the parents' account? Why can't the district go straight to parents and let kids have their lunch? Why make the kids the middle men?

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