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Public Schools in Grand Forks consider changing school lunch policy

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GRAND FORKS, ND (WDAZ)--As school districts across the region debate how to handle paying for student lunches, Grand Forks could soon make a big change to its policy.

School lunch is a big part of a child’s day.

"Chicken nuggets, pizza spaghetti, turkey tidbits,” said Child Nutrition Director, Emily Karel.

But for students behind on their lunch payments, a sandwich could be their only option.  

"It's a soy butter sandwich it's their choice of apple or banana and then their choice of milk,” said Karel.

Instead of reporting the payment issue to social services or collections, the district takes away the child's food options.

"We start giving verbal reminders when they have $5 remaining in their account. In a gentle manner of just like, ‘Oh hey you need lunch money,’ or ‘Tell your parents,’” said Karel.

A conversation -- some parents say elementary school kids shouldn't be having with staff.

"I don't think they should be sorted out or pointed out,” said Grandparent, Fred Macgregor.

"Kids can be kind of mean at times. And so if the children are able to, at least in the lunchroom and at school, be equal I think that's good,” said Macgregor.

It's a policy Grand Forks Public Schools could soon change.

"We're looking into allowing elementary students to have their choice regardless of the status of their account,” said Karel.

But only for elementary school kids.

"I think we want to teach students that they need to be responsible members of society too. And I think middle school is a good age group to start that process,” said Karel.

Some families say a larger change in policy is needed to protect all local students in need.

"Children are independent of their parents,” said Macgregor.

"Most people I've talked to think it's a good idea. They don't characterize children one way or another. Not being able to afford meals,” said Macgregor.