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Galloway Superintendent Defends School Lunch Policy

On Friday, a parent claimed her child was being denied a hot meal at Smithville Elementary School.

Stating that the picture being painted about the Galloway Township School District's food services program in the media are both "inaccurate and incomplete," Superintendent of Schools Dr. Annette Giaquinto posted the following explanation of the school district's lunch policy on its website on Sunday:

"The overall philosophy of our food services program is that “no child ever goes hungry.” No matter if a child has a healthy balance in his account, pays as she goes, or owes money, the child receives a meal at breakfast and lunch. In fact, a child may charge up to $25.00 worth of meals before any changes are made. If a child is building a balance, various measures are taken to communicate with the parent/guardian. This includes notes sent home and phone calls. Additionally, parent/guardians have access to their child’s account through our PayPams system. They can view what a child is purchasing, the account balance or deficit, and other information. There are also situations where a staff member believes the family may need assistance. In these situations, a counselor, CST member, or administrator will contact the family to offer assistance which may include helping the parent complete the necessary paperwork for free or reduced lunch. Again, our goal is to ensure that no child goes hungry.

"The other aspect that is important to understand is that the school cafeteria is an enterprise account – meaning that it is a business that, by code, needs to be self-sustaining. Therefore, we do need to have certain guidelines in place to ensure that parents/guardians fulfill their obligation to the food services program.  Once the account accumulates more than $25.00, a meal is still provided. However, the main hot component is replaced with a cheese sandwich. All other meal components (e.g. vegetable, fruit, beverage) are included with the sandwich. Additionally, if a food services staff member needs to speak to a child, every effort is made to do so in a manner that is private and maintains the child’s dignity. As previously mentioned, communication with the parent/guardian is made. Unfortunately, not every parent/guardians pays the bill and every year money is owed to the food services program and is never collected. The balances from one year to the next are kept on record; however, the child begins the year with a clear account. To my knowledge, practices such as Galloway’s exist is virtually every school and that our policies are as friendly or even more friendly than other schools.

"Because of professional ethics and rules of confidentiality, I am limited in what I can share about the parent/child speaking with the media. The Principal did advise me that last year there was a situation where the child felt embarrassed by something that happened in the lunch line. An apology was offered for the instance that occurred. Again, that was last year. When the parent recently visited school and paid into the child’s account, she spoke to the cafeteria manager in person and absolutely no concerns were raised. It should be noted that I am not aware of any situation this year that resembles what is being reported on the news with this child or any other child.

"For detailed information regarding our Food Services program, please see the link on our district website. As always, parent/guardians with concerns or questions about any situation are encouraged to address it at the level of the concern and, if not satisfied, take the concern to a higher level.  Thank you and please be assured that we remain a school district where children and learning come first."

Annette C. Giaquinto, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Meeting the Standard of Excellence

giaquintoa@gtps.k12.nj.us
609.748.1250, ext. 1011 or 1016


galloway7757 February 03, 2014 at 11:02 AM
Giaquinto is not telling the full story. We did not ask for an explanation of the policy. The taxpayers want an answer as they are the ones funding these lunches. The particular parent in this case (Ross) is part to blame for not staying on top of her kid's account. However the GTPS (Galloway School District) is equally as wrong for not showing morals (as usual). I do not think this woman (Ross) woke up one day and decided to tell the story of how her kids lunch was thrown out. I have heard it from other parents as well.
Red February 03, 2014 at 11:33 AM
Good grief - how much less could a cheese sandwich cost than the "hot portion" of the meal? So while the superintendent says the district is attempting to preserve the dignity of the child -- everyone knows that if a kid ends up with a cheese sandwich in place of hot entrée -- that kid is "marked" as a kid whose adult guardian didn't pay the bill. I'm sorry but this is pettiness carried to an extreme. The kid doesn't have the ability to replenish the account and the kid is the one who is embarrassed in front of his peers meanwhile the "adults" in this situation -- the school district people and the child's guardian are the ones who made this situation what it is. Kids are cruel (as are adults) and I know for a fact that even when I went to school in the 60's this kind of thing would have been noted by the other kids and used as a means of verbally torturing the kid who got the "booby prize" -- the cheese sandwich. No way the child should be the one suffering for the inability of adults to comply with or enforce rules.
Mike Greb February 03, 2014 at 12:10 PM
Not really Red. The kids paying (or with free lunch) have a choice from a couple of entrees. Other kids don't necessarily know if the kid picked the cheese sandwich or didn't have a choice. The parent in this story complains of it happening multiple times. That's multiple times the kid was given over 2 weeks of free food while the parent was contacted numerous times to pay the balance. Now, they don't even have to get out of their chair, and can do it online. It's not an issue of not being able to afford it or they would have free or reduced price lunch. All this story does to me is make the parent look like a bad parent, a media seeking opportunist, or something in between.
Stan Walker February 03, 2014 at 12:52 PM
Headline on NJ.com: Galloway Township mother says elementary school lunch staff threw her away her son's lunch - http://www.nj.com/middlesex/index.ssf/2014/02/galloway_township_mother_says_elementary_school_lunch_staff_threw_her_away_her_sons_lunch.html#incart_river
galloway7757 February 03, 2014 at 03:55 PM
Stan, I referenced this same article on the original story page and there is someone (Mary Crawford) who states that multiple stories that report the same thing are not true.
Lily Sorrow February 06, 2014 at 10:51 PM
Ensure this doesn't happen anymore! Students need regular lunches not a cheese sandwich or punishment lunch. Students do not need to be abused. These schools need serious repercussions when they abuse children. Please petition to stop this we can together stop this from happening: petitions. https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/ensure-all-children-public-schools-within-united-states-are-given-meal-daily-regardless-ability-pay/tbgy8hQv

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