LAFAYETTE — Only 80 Lafayette Parish public school parents repeatedly sent their children to school without lunch money since revisions to the district’s meal payment policy, according to a district supervisor.
Legislation enacted in the past school year requires school districts with no-charge policies for meals — like Lafayette — to track non-payment information and report it to the state.
The legislation also requires school districts that deny a meal for nonpayment to provide the student either a snack or sandwich.
Policy changes to reflect the legislative mandates took effect in Lafayette schools in November.
Between August and November, nearly 16,000 unpaid meals were served to students.
The district saw the number of non-payments drop “drastically” after snacks of milk and a pack of graham crackers were served to students, said Renée Sherville, Lafayette Parish School System child nutrition supervisor.
The unpaid meal bill and cost of snacks for this past school year was about $3,500, Sherville said.
The cost is low compared with the $33,000 in unpaid lunch bills still on the books from prior years.
Sherville said the policy change has been effective with no parents reported to social services as the law also allows.
She credited cafeteria managers and principals for working with parents to keep student accounts current.
An online payment system (https://www.schoolpaymentsolutions.com) also makes it easier for parents to add money to their child’s account, she said.
The school system first instituted a no-charge policy in 2007 as a way to address an unpaid lunch bill that had been as high as $441,000.