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School blasted for 'sandwich of shame' policy aimed to collect lunch debts
An Indiana high school is under fire for serving students who owe money on their lunch accounts a so-called sandwich of shame. - photo by Jessica Ivins
KOKOMO, Indiana An Indiana high school is under fire for serving students who owe money on their lunch accounts a so-called sandwich of shame.

According to the new lunch policy at Kokomo High School, students who owe more than $25 are served a cheese sandwich two slices of bread with two pieces of cheese in between instead of the daily fare offered at the cafeteria, according to Today. While the school informed parents and students of the change last year, it only recently began enforcing the rule.

The policy grabbed the attention of students, parents and strangers alike when a student posted a picture of the sandwich on Facebook. Sierra Feitl was handed one of the sandwiches after being informed she owed $25.60.

I was sitting there thinking, 'Do I have enough money? Am I going to be able to get this tray? Is everyone going to see and wonder why I cant get a normal tray, too?' she told Today.

Fietls post has been shared hundreds of times and sparked outrage in parents and students who believe humiliation is not the answer when it comes to collecting debts, especially with children.

Making a spectacle out of a child or even a young adult in front of their peers because they didnt pay (whether it was their parents fault or their own for not being responsible enough to inform their parents of the dip in their account) is ridiculous, wrote one commenter.

In response to the outcry, the school district apologized for offending people with the new policy, but argues nearly 500 students have outstanding balances on their lunch accounts resulting in $50,000 in debt for the school, Today reports.

That kind of debt puts the school at risk for losing federal funding. Additionally, the district claims just 10 percent of the kids who owe money on their accounts come from low-income families, and they qualify for lunch assistance.

Some of these people on the list, Im sorry, are making $100,000 a year, Kokomo Schools communication director David Barnes told Today. Family of four, and have a debt over $100. Im sorry, these people need to pay their bills.

Some Facebook commenters seem to agree with the districts argument.

I find it ridiculous that everyone is blaming the school for this instead of the parents, wrote one user. Parents are notified when their kids lunch accounts are negative. Theres no excuse for not paying for your childs lunch.

The district is giving parents until next month to pay off debts before they start serving the cheese sandwiches again, and while the policy has made quite a few enemies, it seems to be working.

So far, parents have coughed up about $15,000, Today reports.
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