Assemblymen Herb Conaway, Jr., M.D. and Troy Singleton (both D-Burlington) on Monday encouraged Willingboro school district officials to work with parents to ensure that students in the district do not go hungry while, at the same time being mindful of budgetary realities.
The concern comes amid reports that school employees have been instructed to confiscate meals and throw them away if a child does not have enough money in their account to cover the cost of the meal.
The 7th district lawmakers have reached out to school officials and are also encouraging the school district's vendor to work with the district to adopt a new process to alleviate the possibility of food being thrown away by notifying children and parents before they get into the food line.
"Nutrition is an integral part of a good learning environment. This is a delicate situation that requires the utmost cooperation to protect the best interests of our students.
"I hope cooler heads will prevail so that we can avoid an 'Oliver Twist' situation at all costs. We are encouraging school officials to work with parents to ensure that their children have enough money in their accounts and if a family is struggling schools should make every effort to encourage them to apply for lunch assistance," said Conaway.
"We all know that a well fed child is a well educated child. No child should ever have to go hungry, but at the same time this is an enormous cost for school districts to bear.
"We understand how difficult this economy has been on folks but there is assistance out there to help those who are struggling. School districts, and by default taxpayers, should not have to unnecessarily absorb tens of thousands of dollars in subsidized meals when government assistance is available for those who cannot afford the lunch program. As elected officials and school administrators, we need to work together to ensure the system is working properly for our children," said Singleton.
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