Harris School Solutions

How Cafeteria Software Can Take the Stigma out of Subsidized Lunches

In a recent study published by the American Journal of Public Health, students who qualified for free or reduced-meals provided through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) were often identified by a meal card, while other students paid cash. This discrepancy in the cafeteria lunch line often leads to discrimination and bullying–to the extent that students receiving free or reduced-meals would choose to go hungry than face the embarrassment. 

Some schools separate serving lines between NSLP lunch offerings and offer an additional line for a la carte or cash-only alternatives. This separation also leads to stigma, labeling, and discrimination. In the American Journal of Public Health study, an 8th-grade girl says, regarding the cafeteria line designated for the NSLP offerings, “This is where the poor kids eat.”  

When children are stigmatized, separated, and discriminated against, these feelings can lead to low self-esteem, as well as hunger, reduced academic performance, and poor behavior. However, with the right cafeteria software to process program applications and lunchtime payments, equality and inclusion can become the new standard in the lunchroom.   

At Harris School Nutrition Solutions, we’ve spent three decades working with school nutrition directors, frontline food service workers, school district administrators, and parents and students, to create school meal program solutions that work for real life in the cafeteria. With our EZMealApp, the entire free and reduced meal program is automated, from application and approvals to payments and deposits, and reporting. Through an easy-to-access and easy-to-use online eligibility application, the process becomes streamlined, secure, and best of all, private.  

With a suite of integrated software and support offering improved line management can efficiently speed up lines and serve all students in a more dignified and inclusive manner. Cafeteria software solutions also enable schools to work within NSLP guidelines to offer meals and healthy choices for all students to choose from, rather than cash-only alternatives.  

Ensuring equality in the cafeteria, and equipping districts with the right tools and support to make it possible, can help schools reduce bullying between students, improve low self-esteem, and foster and encourage acceptance and inclusion among classmates.  

Ready to learn more? Harris School Nutrition Solutions is the premier leader in school nutrition software solutions, serving more than 4,000 schools and districts across North America through cafeteria and management solutions that offer operational efficiency, online applications, menu planning, serving line and cafeteria management, online payment portals, and more. 

Contact our team of school nutrition software experts to talk more about cafeteria management solutions that can improve your school lunchrooms.