Survey: Some state schools have option to refuse lunch to kids without money

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A recent survey says 15 percent of the school districts in the state can refuse to serve lunch to students who can't pay for it, Minnesota Public Radio reports.

The survey was conducted by the nonprofit organization Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid. The organization says 309 of 330 school districts in the state answered the survey, and 46 schools said staff is allowed to deny students lunch if their account balances are negative.

About one-third of the districts in the state say they never deny students hot lunch if they can't pay, including Minneapolis, St. Paul and Anoka-Hennepin. About half of the districts surveyed offer alternatives like peanut butter sandwiches to students who can't pay for a 40-cent reduced-price lunch.

Legal Aid attorney Jessica Webster tells MPR even that policy is insulting to kids from low-income families.

Results of the survey come after an uproar in Utah involving students who didn't have money to pay for their school lunches.

According to The Associated Press, parents became enraged after students at an elementary school in the Salt Lake City School District had their deep dish pizzas and other food taken from them and thrown away after the lunch cashier said they owed money on their accounts.

The school district apologized for the incident, in which a district employee decided to start taking lunches from students one day after parents were notified their children where behind on lunch payments. District policy allows for more time than that to respond to account shortfalls, the AP says.

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