Tazewell Co. Schools Food Services Manager addresses "cheese san - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Tazewell Co. Schools Food Services Manager addresses "cheese sandwich" issue

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Tazewell County Schools held its first of three public forums Thursday night at Tazewell Middle School. The main issue being discussed in the aftermath isn't the budget or personnel matters...but the serving of cheese sandwiches to some students.  WVVA asked Food Service Manager George Godbey to clarify the situation.

Under USDS guidelines, a student eating school lunch must either be approved for free lunch, approved for a reduced fee lunch or pay the full price for lunch.  However, in order to keep students from going hungry, Tazewell County schools have allowed pay-based students to charge if they go through the lunch line without money.  While the idea of not allowing students to go without a meal may be the right thing to do, it creates a problem when the charges aren't paid, leaving the Food Services Department with more than $7800 in unpaid lunch fees.

Godbey says he sent mailings to parents owing money but got very little response...not even enough to pay the postage for those mailings.  As a result, a proposal to serve an alternative meal to these students was approved by the board.  Godbey says the only difference between the alternative meal tray and the standard meal tray is the main entree, the hamburger for example, which is replaced by two ounces of cheese and two slices of bread.

"The concept behind this is to do one of two things; make the ones that can pay, pay or make the one's that can't pay fill out the application," Godbey says.  "We do not want to burden the students at all...it's not the students, it's the parents, we understand that.  If people can't pay, they can't pay. But if they fill out the application, most likely they'll qualify for a free or reduced meal."

Godbey says 52% of Tazewell County students currently receive free or reduced meals.  He says he's sure there are more who qualify but haven't applied.

School Board member David Woodard released a statement to WVVA saying, "It is my understanding that at the semester change we will receive a report on this program and seek to make changes to improve it, or go with one of the other options the USDA provides to deal with nonpayment by students."

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