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Manchester Elementary School ending 'lunch shaming'

by Rob Burgess - rburgess@wabashplaindealer.com

 After a change in the student handbook was approved by the Manchester Community Schools Board of School Trustees on Tuesday, Manchester Elementary School is officially doing away with the concept of “lunch shaming” starting with the new school year.

After the meeting, Manchester Elementary School Principal Amy Korus said they had decided to make the change after Becky Landes, food services manager, had approached her about the issue.

“She said, ‘We keep transferring money to the same kids,’ and I said, ‘OK, but I don’t want kids to not have lunch,’” said Korus.

Korus said in the past, if a student owed money they would have alternate lunch ticket.

“They only got a peanut butter and jelly and a milk,” she said. “And we didn’t feel that was really fair. It’s not really a first-grader’s fault if their parents don’t send money. They’re not in high school.”

Korus said people in the community often donate money to cover students lacking lunch funds.

“We just transfer that into their account,” she said. “If they’re a chronic abuser, we try to call the parents and say, ‘Hey, can you put money on their account?’ We don’t ever want them to not get a lunch, so that’s going away.”

Korus said they also have a “sharing table,” which allows another way for hungry students to find something to eat.

“There is always extra food up there,” she said.

In 2017, 1,250 children in Wabash County, or 18.4 percent, were considered food insecure in Wabash County, according to Feed America.

Korus said she wanted to reduce the stigma surrounding students were food insecure through no fault of their own.

“There used to be little blue tickets and the kids had to do the walk of shame to come down and get it,” she said. “Well, a 6-year-old is not going to remember six hours later to tell their parent, ‘Hey, you forgot to put money on my account.’ So, we’re doing away with that.”