KSDE to survey school lunch practices

The Kansas State Department of Education will survey school districts to glean information about school lunch practices following a hearing in the Senate Education Committee. 

Lawmakers on Wednesday heard testimony from a constituent of Committee Chair Senator Molly Baumgardner, R-Louisburg, about so-called “lunch-shaming.” Dan Smith said he’d heard stories of schools in Kansas and Missouri that offer an alternate lunch, or “lunch of shame,” to students who have unpaid negative balances on their lunch accounts. He claimed the alternate lunch is often nutritionally inadequate. Smith also expressed concern about food waste in school cafeterias. 

Cheryl Johnson, KSDE’s Director of Childhood Nutrition and Wellness, walked the committee through the nutritional standards of the National School Lunch program and described the numerous school food service programs, including breakfast, lunch, after school snack, fresh fruit and vegetable and farm to school. Johnson said all school lunch offerings must meet federal nutritional requirements, although decisions about the specific foods served are left to local school district food service directors. Johnson said food waste is a concern that officials continue to try to address. 

In response to questions from Baumgardner and other committee members, Johnson said KSDE would survey Kansas school districts for more information on their policies about unpaid meal balances and alternate entrees, food waste, and use of leftover food and provide those findings to the committee.  



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