District has safeguards to ensure lunch for students

The Hamilton School District has many safeguards in place to ensure students have a lunch each school day. They include:

  • No student is denied a lunch because of family income. Quarterly, Hamilton electronically matches student files to a state database of children in families enrolled in assistance programs or the foster care system to ensure those students are receiving free lunches. Families who do not participate in state programs can apply for and receive free or reduced lunch pricing if their income falls below federal guidelines. Applications can be submitted at any time throughout the school year.
  • When a student’s lunch balance falls below the equivalent cost of five meals, families are contacted each day until the balance is sufficient.
  • Auto refill is an option that automatically draws money from an account when a balance falls to a specific level set by the parent.
  • Elementary schools have emergency funds provided by parent groups that will cover the cost of two meals if a student lacks sufficient funds. On the third day and thereafter, students are provided an alternate lunch of a cheese sandwich, milk and fruit. Parents are asked to repay the emergency fund and the cost of the alternate meals.

The middle and high schools do not have an emergency fund but depleted lunch accounts are rare occurrences. It typically happens because a student wants to buy more than one meal or additional ala carte items. Options for students are to pay for their lunch with cash, call their parents to refill the account which takes minutes, take items they can’t pay for off of their tray, get food from their locker or ask a friend for help. Students can also go to the school office where staff will problem solve with them.