Shame Sandwich? School Serves ‘Cold Cheese’ For Unpaid Lunches

EAST GREENWICH, R.I. (AP) — Some parents are criticizing a new policy at a Rhode Island school that gives cold cheese sandwiches to students who fall behind on lunch payments.

The program allows a child to receive three unpaid lunches, but they get the cheese sandwich on the fourth.

The sandwich comes with milk and an apple, and the school committee says it meets federal nutritional guidelines.

But some parents say it will also come with a social stigma.

Parent Lori Sullivan says serving a cheese sandwich is humiliating and unfair, and could be the result of something as innocent as a child forgetting to pass in money.

East Greenwich isn’t the only school with this type of program. In Warwick, students who don’t have lunch money get a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

  • Becky

    I’m sorry, but this is just dumb. Why penalize a little kid when it’s an issue with the parents. Like school isn’t hard enough these days….

  • Bubba

    When I was in school if you didn’t pay, then you didn’t get lunch. They should have to pay a week in advance like we did and if they didn’t pay then it’s not the school’s problem.

  • Susan

    Guys come on! You don’t pay for your kids lunch, they are fed none the less, and you have the audacity to complain! The stigma has to do with having parents who aren’t paying attention.

  • Karen R Mangan

    If we didn’t have lunch money we either had to bring or borrow from the school and bring them back the money within a week (or else they hound you lol)

  • Ron T

    I agree with the first comment that it’s a PARENT’S PROBLEM, that the unfortunate kid ends up paying for with humility as being judged by the peers within the lunch line!

    So, it becomes an emotional payment for the kid, and is not right, as the responsible parents are safely out of sight at home, or wherever!

    • tsal

      Well said Becky and Ron T – and shame on the school. I’m glad it’s meeting federal nutritional guidelines. Too bad it isn’t meeting the emotional needs of its children. My guess is some kids would choose not to eat rather than be humiliated.

  • RL

    The story should be:
    I ate plenty of cheese with end pieces of bologna and peanut butter and jelly with day old bread from the discount outlets. My family qualified for free meals but wouldn’t even think of doing that . It’s called pride in one’s self.
    I knew others with plenty of money that manipulated the system and Ate free because the parents had no shame and manipulated the system.
    The schools house them, feed them, teach them and baby sit them.
    No wonder the country is broke.

  • CKM

    The school system came up with a fair solution to dealing with irresponsible parents, and now the parents have the audacity to complain about a problem they helped create?

    The kids should be embarrassed, not by the cheese sandwich, but by their own parents.

    • SEL

      Absolutely correct CKM!! This is ridiculous. At least they are eating and probably getting more than they’d get at home!

    • Marie R Sadler

      I am an adult and I still eat cheese sandwhiches. What’s the problem?

  • Julian

    What a load.

    People are starving everywhere, and the bottom line is the school is providing a meal for nothing, granted there may be cases where a kid should be getting the regular lunch, but regardless, lunch is lunch.

    Feed the children cheese sandwiches, but just feed the children.

  • mamom

    The policy gives the parents three shots to pay – they don’t get the cheese sandwich until the 4th day. Parents need to be held responsible. Why should the school continue to feed their children free day after day when they don’t qualify. My daughter’s elementary school had a system where you sent in a check quarterly to refill the lunch account. Kids came home with a standard letter if the account went until $10. It was my responsibility to fill the account. Also, compared to most of the school lunches, I would actually prefer the cheese sandwich so I don’t see it as a hardship.

  • John

    Wow!! Free cheese sandwiches (hopefully they come with mustard…otherwise that really would be mean), apples, and milk? Hopefully these kids will eventually be thankful for this lesson in reality as they get older and more responsible…

  • EMM

    The kids are getting 4 free meals total, and the parents complain? Where has all the personal responsibility gone?

  • Thomas the Tough-Enough to Eat Cheese

    Oh, for the love of, the kid gets fed a perfectly acceptable meal long after his money has run out. Get over it!

    Pay for your food and then shut the heck up. This is simply NOT A PROBLEM.

    If a child is truly disturbed by this, that child is very sensitive and may well benefit from a gentle opportunity to toughen-up just a little bit. It’ll do no harm, and will probably be helpful in the child’s maturation.

  • DSG

    What in the world is humiliating about a cheese sandwich?? The children should be humiliated that their parents don’t care enough to feed them.

  • anon

    I work in a school lunch department. We have families that owe hundreds of dollars-per child-one family is at a thousand dollars with all of kids combined. Our administration feels it isn’t nice to give the kids cheese sandwiches so we provide the same meal as everyone else. Now we can’t even do more to ask for the money back than make 2 phone calls a month with the very polite message that they owe money. These parents are the meanest most entitled people I’ve ever known. They will never pay their own way and they don’t care . It’s sad that due to the parents issues kids at the school in the article have to “suffer” through an alternate meal-but it’s really the parenats to blame. No wonder schools are broke.

  • Michael

    Food is still provided.

    The piccaninnies are not actually going hungry.

  • Kendra Meyer

    Wow, you guys are about the rudest bunch of people I have ever met, and apparently never been embarassed a moment in your life. I understand that yes it is the parents to blame, and that they need to pay the bill. But why single the children out like that. It isn’t there fault. These are little kids we are talking about that don’t have a say in how their parents spend there money. The kids will all obviously know why their classmate is eating a cheese sandwich. If you are gonna serve one a cheese sandwich serve it to all of them, since you all think it’s such a good meal.

    • shadylady


  • ann baxter

    Wow, sounds like a better lunch than my kids school gives out when you run out of money. They get a granola bar and milk. They don’t have a 3 day free policy either. First time you run out of money, no lunch.

  • Susan M.

    If the parents continuously do not provide a meal and do not pay for the meal provided for by the school, that is child neglect. Lunch is not the school’s responsibility. When I was a kid if I forgot my lunch I went hungry. These kids are fortunate to get a free lunch at all. Stop your whining.

  • Bon

    Before you leave a comment you should understand the issue. My Son who is 8 and has 40 mins to play after school before starting his hour of himework then gets dinner and has another 30-40mins to get his reading for school done. Wakes up to shower have breakfast pack his backpack and run for the bus. (And don’t tell me to have him get up earily he is up at 6am and goes to bed at 7:30pm.) Has forgotten to have me write my $42.00 Check for lunch money and was told he had to have a cheese sandwich. He does not like cheese and went hungry! When I got there I questioned why this happened and why a bill or note was not sent home on the second day. They do this for the younger kids but not a 3rd grader. I also asked why the balance I had at the elementary school was not transferred to the middle school and was told they can not do that either. So they kept my $6.00 as a bonus. I went to parent teacher day and looked at my childs lunch tickets she had four left. She got lunch two days and I got a letter stating she needed more money. I sent in a note asking where the other two days went and never got an answer. Better send in your $42.00 or she will get a cheese sandwich! The lunch system is Broken not Broke!

  • shadylady

    I cannot believe so much attention has been given to this matter. I have lived in EG all my life and I am getting so sick of these irresponsible, whining parents who pretend to be protecting their kids from embarrassment when they are, in fact, the embarrassment to their children. They are sooooo busy, they forget to make sure their kids have their lunch money or put it in a fund or make their kid a lunch or (and here is a novel idea) let the kid make their own lunch. If you have done such a bad job preparing your child for the real world that they get embarrassed and need the psychiatrist couch, because they got a cheese sandwich for lunch, shame on you.

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