The first few times a second-grader enters the cafeteria with no money and no lunch of their own, workers give them a tray of whatever is being served that day, but eventually they have to draw a line.
Each time the student receives a lunch without paying, the school sends a note home to their parents, letting the family know that the amount needs to be repaid. If the amount remains unpaid and the student keeps coming to school without money or a meal, their menu is set: a peanut butter or cheese sandwich, a carton of milk and possibly a side of fruit.
Schools don’t want children to go hungry, especially not in elementary school, when their parents forget or can’t afford to pay for lunch. But at some point, schools have to make a cutoff and require families to pay.