When a school’s policy puts food in a trash can rather than a student’s belly, something is really wrong
A cafeteria worker at a Pennsylvania elementary school quit her job after she was forced to take a hot lunch away from a student who had an unpaid balance in his lunch account. Stacy Koltiska posted about the district’s new policy on Facebook to let parents know just what happens when their balances fall short. If what she alleges is true – it’s pretty sickening.
The district is essentially signing off on putting food in a trash can rather than a student’s belly. And that is NOT okay.
ATTENTION ALL PARENTS WHO HAVE CHILDREN IN THE CANON McMILLAN SCHOOL DISTRICT!!! I need to inform you about a new…
“The first week of school on Friday, I had to take a little first grade boy’s chicken and give him this ‘cheese sandwich.’ I will never forget the look on his face and then his eyes welled up with tears,” she writes. She was immediately disgusted. When it happened again the following week, she decided to resign.
In her Facebook post she outlines the new policy in the school district that disgusted her enough to quit. “This year Canon Mac implemented a new Rule 808.1. This rule states that any child who has a balance of $25 or more will not receive a lunch if they are in Grades 7 through 12,” she explains. “State law requires that children K through 6 must be given a lunch. In Rule 808.1 it says that children in K through 6 will be provided a ‘Sandwich’ — what You don’t know is that they are being given One Piece of Cheese on Bread.” She says the it’s simply one piece of cheese on un-toasted bread. Yet the parents will still be charged the full price of a hot lunch that is being denied to their child.
District Superintendent Matthew Daniels told WTAE that the new policy has drastically cut down the number of parents who don’t keep the lunch accounts for their students current.
“There has never been the intent with the adoption of this policy to shame or embarrass a child,” he said.
Once a child has a plate of hot food in their hands, it has to be thrown away — not just served to another student. So the district is A-OK with taking an actual meal from a child, tossing it in the trash, handing them a piece of cheese on bread, then charging a parents account for a hot meal anyway?
Elementary school lunchroom politics should not exist. Kids should never be “punished” by getting food withheld or by getting a different lunch than everyone else. Feed the kids first, work out payment with parents later. It’s not like they’re going anywhere. Forgetful parents will certainly rush to re-up their kid’s lunch account when they are notified, and for those parents who can’t afford to at that moment? Is this really the hard-line we need to take to help a school’s budget? The threat of embarrassing a child at lunch or taking food away from them and tossing it in the trash?
“What makes this even MORE SICKENING is that we throw so much food away EVERYDAY,” Koltsika writes. “So our children are being served cheese, being charged and denied the hot food that we then throw away.”
As for the policy implemented to recoup money the district is owed for delinquent accounts, Koltsika told The Washington Post,
“They’re suits at a board meeting. They are not the ones facing a child and looking them in the eye and taking their food away.”
Well, maybe they should be forced to do that before they implement policies that take food out of the hands of first graders in front of all their peers.