Minot community reacts to school lunch debt policy

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MINOT, N.D. - A recent change to how the Minot Public School district handles student lunch debts has garnered some criticism on social media, and even attention from national organizations.

Dawn Johnson, the parent of a first grader in Minot, says she's concerned about recent changes to the school district's lunch policy.

“I think it unfairly punishes the students. Like my child personally would not be filled up with a sandwich and a carton of milk and he's in first grade. So if you're feeding that to fifth or sixth graders I can't imagine how much they're not able to focus because they're not full," Johnson said.

Even the ACLU has chimed in on the matter, saying, "Lunch debt collection policies like this do nothing to help ensure our kids have the best possible learning environment. We need a policy that treats families with dignity and respect, not shame and threats."

The policy was adopted by the school board from the North Dakota School Board Association. Jim Rrostad, president of the board, says they review policies month by month to adjust to the needs of the district and that changes can be made.

"As many polices we look at, the board does make changes that are necessary. This is only a month old and so it's not unusual where changes are presented. It's not an unusual occurrence that the broad will change policies as they need changing,” Rostad said.

Some members of the Minot community are already trying to tackle lunch debts in their own ways. The Ice Cold Ryders began the Food For Thought program to help ensure students would get a hot meal.

'We started a, it was hot lunch in the winter and we renamed it Food for Thought. We found out that the kids were not getting hot lunch. So, we went around two years ago we raised $10,000. We asked local businesses to matched us and we were able to present each school with a check I think for no less than $5,000. We went to every school in one year," said Shawn Brown, the club’s president.

Club member Brad Wobbema says the issue effects members of their club as well.

“Most of the guys in the club who have children they within in the school system so this hits everybody within our club. We do stuff for our community within our community. This was one of those things that we decided that 'hey, let's jump on this, let's help.'” Wobbema said.

A nationwide issue, hitting students here at home.

If the public wants to voice their concerns on this issue, they can Thursday night.

The school board will be meeting at 7:30 p.m. in the board room at the administration building downtown to discuss the issue.