Poor kids who owe lunch money forced to eat cold food while classmates get hot meals
School students reading from a book (Shutterstock)

According to the Associated Press, a school district in Warwick, Rhode Island, has announced that kids from families who are behind on school lunch payments will only receive cold sandwiches, as opposed to the hot lunches that are served as part of the program.

The school district says that it is down $40,000 as a result of delinquent lunch payments, but curiously turned down a $4,000 donation from a local restaurant owner to ease its debt.

District officials claim the policy, effective next Monday, is necessary because they must treat students equally, even though this would appear to be the opposite of that.

Many low-income families rely on school lunch programs to ensure their kids get proper nutrition. In fact, for some kids, meals at school are all they have. In theory, poor families are supposed to qualify for free or reduced-price school lunches, but sometimes they can find themselves in debt through clerical errors. Regardless, the policy would appear to penalize children for the financial situation of their parents.

The Rhode Island General Assembly is currently considering legislation that would make school lunches free for all students.