Some Van Buren Students May Go Without Lunch

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Some Van Buren High students may go without lunch this school year, after leaving a major debt to the school district.

The school board voted to not allow its high school students to charge their lunches. They must instead either pay the full price, or take advantage of the schools' free or reduced lunch options.

One on the board members voted against the decision.

"For many students, this is the only meal they get a day," said, Candice Settle-Beshears. "I think there will probably be some lunch ladies that may take up their own and help kids, and I believe other kids will be helping kids."

Doug Humphreys has three children in school at Van Buren. He said kids can't be in school with empty stomachs.

"I can't even imagine. It would be very difficult for a child to not be able to have lunch and then try and be able to stay focused in the afternoon,” said Humphreys.

School superintendent Merle Dickerson said some Van Buren High students have even abused the system, costing the lunch program up to $50,000.

"We think almost all of our kids have that money in their pocket," Dickerson said. "We know of some situations where they're taking advantage of us."

Jamie Hammond, school board president, said high school students are old enough to provide for themselves.

"We think that a high school age kid is responsible enough to bring the funds, if they have the money to pay for their lunch," said Hammond.

Hammond said this new policy will not go into effect immediately, but will happen this school year and students will be notified. Students in the eighth grade and under will still be allowed to charge their lunch. Students in high school can take advantage of reduced and even free lunches from the school.

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