Local News

February 5, 2013

School board responds to cheese sandwich criticism

“Just terrible.”

Steve Hampton, a resident of Whitfield County, had strong words for the “cheese sandwich policy” in county and city schools as he spoke at the Whitfield County Board of Education meeting Monday night.

“Five unpaid charges and then kids have to eat a cheese sandwich,” Hampton said. “Why? Why should kids be punished? That’s bad.”

Students who have more than five unpaid cafeteria charges are given an “alternative lunch” consisting of a cheese sandwich and a carton of milk until their balance is paid off, according to the policy. The Daily Citizen reported on the policy this past Sunday.

The cost of an elementary student lunch varies from district to district, but it’s usually $2 a day.

The reasoning behind enforcing the “set procedure” was a growing deficit of unpaid lunch charges that broke $73,000 last year, school spokesman Eric Beavers said. Since the policy has been actively enforced, six alternative lunches have been served and $20,000 of charges have been paid.

“We’re not a bank,” school board chairman Louis Fordham said. “We’re talking significant dollars ... we cannot extend credit like that ... we’re communicating with students and parents, going above and beyond. Students are given food, but we don’t have unlimited resources ... we’re really just enforcing a policy that has been in place.”

Several school systems, including Dalton Public Schools, have similar policies covering all grade levels. Unlike middle and high school students, elementary school students receive a free breakfast consisting of oatmeal, cereal or other breakfast items.

“Students are given multiple chances to miss payments,” Fordham said. “I’ve talked with students about this as well. Most kids know about the unpaid charges, they just forget to tell parents. But we’re letting them (students and parents) know. At some point though, we have to keep the policy. The key thing is to keep students informed.”

Hampton said he was concerned students were getting “tagged” as impoverished, but county assistant superintendent Judy Gilreath said school officials make sure they don’t “embarrass” a student who cannot afford lunch.

Parents who cannot afford lunch for their children can fill out the Free Meal Application. Both county and city schools offer free lunches — the full menu, not a cheese sandwich — for families who receive help from government programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and Women, Infants and Children (WIC); if the student is a foster child; or if the parents’ income is considered limited based on the size of the household.

Zoning concerns

School board members also heard from Gandi Vaughn, a member of the school council at New Hope Elementary and New Hope Middle schools, who said he was concerned about the county school zoning policy.

“When an out-of-zone child is in elementary school and wants to move up in the same school zone, they have to reapply for middle and high school,” Vaughn said. “This is a particularly large problem at New Hope (Elementary) with 36 children who are out of zone and want to go to New Hope Middle, but who have to go through the reapply process.”

Vaughn asked for a policy change allowing students who have applied for an out-of-zone school to be “grandfathered in” and remain on the same school track, dropping the need to reapply before the student’s first year of middle or high school.

“It can be traumatic to wait to see if you’ll make it to the school of your choice at that age,” he said. “The administrative officials at the New Hope (Elementary and Middle) are behind this proposal. And we’d like to know something in a timely manner so we can deal with these students that are graduating in the summer.”

Students feted

Board members recognized Southeast Whitfield High School student Olivia Brewer for her first place submission to the “Art from Georgia Schools” exhibit at the University of North Georgia, Austin Clark and Elvis Cordovi of Coahulla Creek High School for placing first place in the fall Stock Market Game, and several students for being nominated for the 2013 Governor’s Honors Program.

Results of the program will be released in the spring.

Text Only
Local News
  • Four arrested on meth, marijuana charges

    A traffic stop of a suspicious vehicle led to the arrest of four people on meth charges and the seizure of more than four pounds of meth and several firearms on Wednesday, officials said.

    August 1, 2014

  • Dalton State turtle 4.jpg In the mood for love: Encouraging breeding, saving species

    For one Dalton State College couple, a cool misty shower is more effective than Barry White and candles at turning thoughts to love. And keeping this couple feeling amorous could mean survival of the species.

    August 1, 2014 4 Photos

  • Beaulieu expects 2,000 employees to be affected by week-long shutdown

    About 2,000 employees of Beaulieu of America in Georgia and Alabama will be affected by the company’s plans to conduct an inventory of its buildings and facilities next week.

    August 1, 2014

  • Moral monday 3 mlh.jpg Four ‘jailed for justice’ tell their stories

    Arturo Martinez was just 8 when his family came to the United States from Mexico, and though he is one of more than 500,000 young undocumented immigrants granted deferred removal by President Barack Obama, Martinez said his dream of pursuing higher education is out of reach because of Georgia policies.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tanner Blackton: Diners, servers must show understanding

    Try to imagine this: You’ve been on your feet for hours, hoisting heavy plates, buzzing from table to table, taking orders, running food, refilling drinks. All the while, you have a smile plastered on your face and a go-to attitude, even when people blame you for things that are out of your control, berate you for accidentally mixing up an order, or loudly complain about being seated underneath an air conditioning vent.

    August 1, 2014

  • Bugs and Kisses 1 mlh.jpg Local stores expect tax holiday to create lots of sales

    Local retailers say Georgia’s sales tax holiday weekends mean big business for them, and they are gearing up to capitalize on this year’s tax-free shopping on Friday and Saturday.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Esme file mw 2.jpg Still fighting

    Ten-year-old Esme Miller was celebrated earlier this year for the way she’s handled a bout with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Historical photos of Murray County needed

    Maybe you have a photograph of a well-known preacher from the 1940s. Or maybe you have a photograph taken of a church choir from the 1920s.

    July 30, 2014

  • State DOT wants your input on transportation needs

    As state and national leaders consider alternatives for funding future transportation needs, the Georgia Department of Transportation wants to know what Georgians would like in their 21st century transportation system and how they recommend paying for it.

    July 30, 2014

  • Jail for Justice Tour event here tonight

    The Moral Monday Georgia Coalition, the NAACP-led multi-racial, multi-issue advocacy group, will host an event in partnership with the Georgia Dreamers Alliance, Coalition of Latino Leaders (CLILA), Whitfield NAACP and the Whitfield County Democratic Party at Dalton’s Mack Gaston Community Center tonight from 5 to 9.

    July 30, 2014