No more lunch shaming in Indiana school district: All students get free lunch

An Indiana school district knows how to stop the so-called phenomenon of school lunch shaming, which is when kids who haven't paid their bills can't get a full lunch: give all the students a free lunch.

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Wayne Township School District began offering free lunches to students in 12 of its schools during the 2015-2016 school year, according to WTHR-TV.

"If your child owed any kind of money, they'd receive a peanut butter sandwich for lunch, and the first time that I saw a child crying with their head down, I said, 'We're not going to do this anymore,'" assistant Superintendent Cheri O'Day Marcotte told WTHR.

Officials thought the free lunch program was so successful, they expanded it to include the other six schools in the district this school year.

"I can't do it. I can't not feed kids," Marcotte told the news station.

"Bad experience in school leads to not liking school, not wanting to do well in school, not belonging, not fitting in. If you think of something negative that happened at your elementary school, and we all can, you carry that. If we can at least alleviate some of that for a child and make sure learning is able to happen, I don't know why we wouldn't do it."

The annual cost of the free lunch program for the 17,000 students in Wayne Township is just over $6 million. The district pays 14%, WTHR reported, while 86% of the students in the district qualify for free or reduced lunch, which is reimbursed to the district.

"I think about all the money that we spend, and what better way than feeding kids. Will the money run out? It could, but we think right now, with the money that's available, why not feed kids," Marcotte said.

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