No More Negative Balances: Lunch Staff Reinforces Pre-Pandemic Policies


Ashley Hawkins

With the end of the year approaching, students are no longer allowed to buy food in the cafeteria if they have a negative balance.

Cadence Wooden, Staff Reporter

Recent Schoology announcements have been buzzing students’ phones, reading “LOTS OF NEGATIVE LUNCH BALANCES!! Please make sure your account has money BEFORE you go through the lunch line!! Starting May 1st, you WILL NOT be able to get food until money is deposited into your account.”

Though this policy was re-announced recently, it has been around since before the COVID pandemic. However, like many things, the rule became relaxed as a result of the pandemic and is now being reinforced.

“We were doing it even during COVID,” said food services manager Ms. Kim McCarthy. “It’s just that there wasn’t as many negative balances because there’s not as many people [who] were taking lunches.” 

With the rule being enforced starting on Monday of this week, students can no longer get food during mealtimes if their lunch accounts have insufficient funds.

This rule is not meant to stress students out, but rather open up the opportunity to help the lunch staff out with managing the balances. Ms. McCarthy said that the balances are harder to manage at the end of the year because “the parents are tired [of] putting [money] on and the kids don’t pay attention.” It also allows for students to have a larger amount of time to eat their lunch.

The lunch staff also wants students to know that any money that is placed within the lunch account can be reimbursed and given back if it isn’t used by the end of the year. Also, the money can transfer over into the next year, so it doesn’t go away. For seniors, the money can be given to someone else or they may be reimbursed.

As a result of re-establishing this rule towards the end of the school year, the lunch staff hopes to see that everyone will be able to get through the lunch line within 10 minutes. As a result of the surplus of negative balances, the lunch staff is having to use time to write down students’ negative balances and make the students aware of it, which holds up the lunch line.

“Our main goal is to get everybody [through the line] so they have as much time for lunch as they can because I know it can be kind of daunting,” Ms. McCarthy said.