— DALTON, Ga. —
The “cheese sandwich policy” is causing indigestion for some parents in this northwest Georgia community.
If children fall behind in their lunch payments, they are served an “alternative lunch” that consists of a cheese sandwich and a cartoon of milk until their bill is paid off.
Whitfield County school administrators said they had to act because of a growing deficit in the lunch program that had reached $73,000 last year. Some parents complained and said it was unfair to penalize the children.
Lunch prices vary, but $2 per meal is an average cost, a school spokesman said. “We’re not a bank,” school board chairman Louis Fordham said. “We’re talking significant dollars ... we cannot extend credit like that.”
One parent said he was concerned that some students were getting “tagged” as impoverished through no fault of their own. Officials said there is a free lunch program for low-income families, but parents must first fill out an application to participate..
Dalton calls itself the "Carpet Capital of the World," but the recession caused a slowdown in manufacturing and the community has experienced higher unemployment.
Details for this story were provided by the Dalton (Ga.) Citizen.