More and more schools are doing what angry parents and students have dubbed 'lunch shaming.' When a child's account becomes overdrawn, cafeteria workers snatch the hot lunches right out of their hands, often tossing the good food into the garbage rather than let the indebted child eat it. One cafeteria worker was asked to do this, and the experience made her resign.
Stacy Koltiska of Wylandville Elementary School in Pennsylvania was sickened by what she was asked to do. One child's parents owed the school more than $25 for school lunches, and Koltiska was told she had to take away his hot lunch right in front of his peers.
Another cafeteria worker had given the youngster a hot lunch, even though he wasn't supposed to be entitled to one. Koltiska had to walk up to him and take it away from him.
"His eyes welled up with tears. I'll never forget his name, the look on his face," said Koltiska to the Associated Press.
The school has had to crack down on kids because more than 300 families are behind in lunch payments. The school is out tens of thousands of dollars because of failure to pay. A new policy forces lunch workers to take hot lunches away from kids with overdue accounts. Younger students get to charge a cold sandwich, fruit and milk, but high school students get nothing.
According to Superintendent Matthew Daniels of the Cannon-McMillan School District, the strict policy has helped to cut down on parents who are not paying their bills. The goal is not to shame children, but to ensure parents keep payments current. Of the 300 families once in arrears, more than 200 of them have brought their accounts up to date since the stricter policies were implemented.
Rather than being in the hole nearly $100,000 from unpaid lunches, the school is now only in the hole $20,000. That's a huge difference.
Some fear that children from low-income families are going to be stigmatized by their parents’ inability to pay. 'Lunch shaming' might not have been the intention, but taking the food out of a child's hands in front of the whole school ends up humiliating children nonetheless.
"I'm not saying the parents shouldn't be held accountable, but I think there has to be a better way than involving the children," concluded Koltiska.
Source: ABC News Go
Photo: ABC News Go