NEW JERSEY - New Jersey public schools are taking a tougher approach when it comes to parents not paying for their student meal plans.
The new approach asserts that families must either pay up or face severe consequence, according to reports from The Philadelphia Inquirer.
At first, students may not get a meal.
If the problem continues, parents could face a possible state probe for child abuse.
Across the region, districts handle the issue differently, from giving students an alternate meal like peanut butter and jelly or slices of cheese on bread.
In some cases, schools will deny students any type of food or meal until the debt is paid.
More severely, parents can be reported to the state’s Department of Children and Families, which investigates allegations of possible neglect or abuse.
Critics call it lunch shaming and say kids should not pay the price for what their parents can or cannot afford.
The strict policy has sparked a social-media firestorm.