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Published: Thursday, 9/4/2014 - Updated: 1 month ago

Sylvania Schools starts new lunch purchasing policy

BY NATALIE TRUSSO CAFARELLO
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Sylvania Schools has a new lunch charging policy to help make sure students are not deprived of lunch. Sylvania Schools has a new lunch charging policy to help make sure students are not deprived of lunch.
THE BLADE/NATALIE TRUSSO CAFARELLO Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Sylvania Schools is instituting a new charge policy so that each student receives a well-balanced meal for breakfast or lunch.

Joe Shamy, the school district’s director of food services, has a new policy that will allow children to purchase lunches even when they don’t have enough money with them.

“I was adamant,” he said. “ We want them to eat regardless of their economic situation.”

The new lunchbox system was set up to enable students to purchase meals on a credit account. Parents can place funds on that account -- via www.myschoolbucks.com. If no funds are available, it will allow the food purchase and keep track of what is owed.

Mr. Shamy said that, before he started in his position in 2012, children would pay first and then go through the cafeteria line. If a student didn’t have funds, it was not noticeable. Now, the law requires students to gather food first and pay at the end of the line. The law also required that government-subsidized entrees have three of the five food groups of bread, milk, vegetables, fruit, and a protein. 

In some instances, he explained, if a student could not afford the lunch they selected, the cashier could switch it out for a cheese sandwich. Students in line could notice the switch.

The new school lunch program can restrict how much students can purchase. The new school lunch program can restrict how much students can purchase.
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“Students would grab all their food, get to the end of the line, and have no money,” he said. “And you embarrass them with a cheese sandwich. And then what do you do with the food on the tray? This is food hospitality. You do not embarrass them.”

The practice, Mr. Shamy said, placed the lunchroom cashiers in an awkward position, deciding on the spot if they “let Johnny go or give him a cheese sandwich.” He could not comment on how many times this took place because it happened before he lead the district’s food services. 

The district’s Mosaic system, which is new software costing $15,000, will allow students to charge up to $10 before it contacts the family for payment. If the balance increases to $20, his office will take further action and will ask the family if there are any circumstances affecting payment. The old system would allow only up to two meals purchased without payment. Lunches are $2.50 for grade school students and $2.75 for junior and high school students.

The food services department is treating unpaid food purchases as school fees. Just like fees that are owed for students to play sports, if the lunch fees are not paid, student transcripts are withheld.

Parents, although not there in person, will be able to keep an eye over what their children eat. Parents can program the lunch card to pay for only one meal and no extra à la carte items, just in case their child decides he or she wants two hamburgers a day.

The system also has notes and warnings pop up on the screen, alerting the cashier to a students’ food allergies or conditions on what they can eat.

Contact Natalie Trusso Cafarello at: 419-206-0356, or ntrusso@theblade.com or on Twitter @natalietrusso.



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