The York City School District is about to find out how its students feel about cheese sandwiches.

A new policy, adopted Wednesday by the school board, aims to discourage parents from mooching off the district's cafeteria budget.

Students can receive a free lunch three times. But on that fourth trip through the cafeteria line without lunch money, the cashier will have to swap the student's main entree -- barbecue chicken or a slice of pizza, for example -- for a cheese sandwich.

The student will continue to receive a cheese sandwich until the full balance is paid, according to the policy.

The student would still receive the rest of the meal, which includes milk and a fruit or vegetable serving.

The food services department and the administration will be responsible for enforcing the policy.

"It will be the responsibility of the district to notify families of their balances and if a student received a cheese sandwich meal," the policy reads.

The intent: District officials have said the policy is designed to curb the district's loss of revenue in its food budget by introducing a consequence that might make students and parents think twice about mooching.

A significant number of those students might qualify for free and reduced lunches, but their parents haven't filled out the necessary forms -- something the district cannot legally force parents to do, Chris Talley, the district's food-services operations manager, said when he proposed the policy in September.


"Our primary goal with this new policy, which is standard in school districts around the country, is to encourage families to complete the meal applications and take advantage of the financial assistance that is available to them," Superintendent Eric Holmes said in a statement. "We hope that this policy will bring attention to the efforts of increasing meal applications on file for students and reduce the amount of money that is owed by students at the end of the year."

Students who qualify for free and reduced lunches historically make up a large percentage of York City's pupils.