St. Louis schools need help paying off student meal debt

Kantine Mittagsessen mit Schnitzel und Nudeln auf einem Tablett.

ST. LOUIS – Some school districts in the St. Louis area are asking the community to help pay off student meal debt for families who can’t afford daily lunches for their children.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports more than 2,100 students in the Francis Howell School District collectively owe nearly $19,000 in their school lunch accounts.

Schools try avoiding “lunch shaming” of students whose families haven’t replenished their lunch accounts, and preventing lunch debt from using up district money. Lunch shaming has gained nationwide attention amid stories of cafeteria workers throwing away food and giving sandwiches to students with no money.

Francis Howell isn’t considered among the region’s neediest districts but still has thousands of students from low-income families. The district has asked people to pitch in to a dedicated lunch debt fund.