School Refusing Lunches

Updated on April 08, 2013
C.W. asks from Joplin, MO
44 answers

I was reading an article in a group about the Coelho Middle School that refused lunch to approximately 25 students because either they didn't have enough money or were short on funds for their meal. I am a little peeved off about it. No it wasn't my child, but seriously. They could easily send a note home to the parents/guardians of the children and let them know. They didn't have to refuse them food. We spend millions of dollars to help other countries feed their children, but we deny the ones in our own country. Now I'm not saying that our help isn't needed, but it just hits home a little too hard when the children are going hungry here. Sure it was just lunch, but how do you feed every other child around and not that one just because they're a little short on their account? I understand if it were an adult, it'd be different, but this is a child. A middle school child.

Sorry, but what do y'all think about it? Above is just my opinion so please no negativity towards my opinion since we all have them.

Link to story is listed in the SWH section....

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answers from St. Louis on

Did you catch the bit where it said their accounts together were negative 1,800 dollars!! 25 accounts! That is 72 dollars a kid on average! I will go on the assumption their lunches are around what my children's are, 3.00. That would mean that they have gone, on average, 24 school days or at least five weeks, probably six considering spring break, ignoring the fact that they hadn't sent the kids lunch money.

Don't go all poor kids starving either! the poor kids get free lunch. These are parents that have the money but don't bother to send it in. I have never heard of a school not sending out notices when the account goes below five dollars so they were getting a awful lot of notices....

Sorry but people need to be responsible and those parents weren't. So if you want to be peeved at anyone be peeved at the irresponsible parents! The school wasn't letting them starve, their parents did.

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answers from Sioux City on

Sounds like some parents should pay up. Personally I would be to embarrassed to say much of anything if I were in those parents shoes. I would be mortified that I didn't get the bill payed. I would apologize to my child that I put them in such a position. That's how it should work. The school district didn't decide to have children, parents did. The parents need to do their job!

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answers from Portland on

This is an aberration. It's a one time thing that happened in one school And immediate action was taken to correct the situation. I hardly think it is news worthy.

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answers from Washington DC on

oh wah.
first world problems.
american parents are too lazy and stupid to provide food for their own kids, but get all puffed up with righteous anger when the schools, already strapped to bursting point, don't step up and add THIS to the list of things parents expect schools to take over for them.
if any of these kids were actually starving i might muster up some outrage, but i doubt that's the case.
only a few years ago there was a school that provided peanut butter sandwiches to any kids who didn't have enough money in their accounts. who got buried in %^&$# outrage? the school, for not being sensitive enough to kids with peanut allergies. the parents who weren't sending their kids to school with appropriate lunches or the money to buy got to sit around smugly and point fingers.
i have no patience for people like the poster who proudly bawled out the lunch lady in front of her kid, and loves how fondly the child remembers it. it's far too easy to look like a hero to a little kid by attacking a low level worker who has zero recourse, instead of teaching and taking responsibility for one's own actions which created the situation in the first place.
fat, complacent, spoiled, entitled americans.

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answers from Kansas City on

can i be honest?

so, this is not a third world nation with starving children. this is Massachusetts. first off, i am positive that none of these children is going to die of starvation from missing one meal.

second, it doesn't say, but our school lets it slide for quite awhile if you owe them money. how long had these children's accounts been negative? how long had they been eating without paying??? i have full confidence that this was not the FIRST time the parents had heard that their child needed lunch money. nowhere does it say anything about notes sent home or notifications of any kind.

it sounds to me like propaganda and hate mongering towards a school that was probably doing the best it could with the system it has to work within.

i am continually amazed at what depths people, even parents with kids looking up to them, will sink to. my school is constantly having to hound people for money they owe. why? people as a group are selfish and greedy and lazy. sorry but it's true. sounds to me like someone just got tired of being taken advantage of.

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answers from Sarasota on

If they were in elementary they would have been fed. By middle school, you can miss a meal. Bet they remember lunch from now on. God forbid people take responsibility for themselves.

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answers from Seattle on

My mother works in the lunch room at her elementary school. She has been doing it for about 10 years.
She sends notes home ALL THE TIME to parents to let them know when their account is low, when it has no funds, and that emergency lunches are all the child will get. If the parent STILL refuses to do anything about it then the poor kid gets a cheese sandwich and an apple.
It's not my mom's fault. It's the parents fault.
Sure, some of these kids may qualify for free or reduced lunches. So, take the 2 minutes it takes to fill out the form and GET THE KID FREE LUNCHES.
This is 100% on the parent. It is not the school's responsability to feed all of the kids. It's the parents job to make sure their child is being fed. Be that food from their own house, school lunches, or signing up for free lunch.
Oh! And maybe the parent told the child (who is not a baby!) to make their own lunch in the morning and the child decided not to. Thought they could get free lunch. Jokes on them. They should have made a lunch.
If I were you I would not be upset at the upset at the parents.

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answers from San Francisco on

When I was a kid, if you didn't have money, or forgot your your lunch (or lunch tickets) at home, you didn't eat. Guess what? That made us, and our parents, very responsible.
Same thing as an adult, if I walk into a cafeteria or restaurant and can't pay, I don't expect to be fed.
I can't believe parents are "outraged" over a single missed meal. Only in spoiled and entitled America. As if any of these people has any idea what it's like to be truly hungry. Disgusting. That's MY opinion :-(
ETA: I worked in our school's lunch program. We (volunteers) spent time every month, sending emails reminding parents when their balances were running low, and making sure there was extra food for kids who couldn't pay. We SHOULD have been spending more time working with kids but no, parents felt it was more important for us to be watching their child's lunch balances, SOMETHING THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN DOING THEMSELVES. Ridiculous!

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answers from Miami on

They're trying to punish the parents for ignoring that they owe money for lunches. The kids are the ones who are punished, but they go home and tell their parents that they didn't have lunch. The parents get upset about it, ignoring the fact that they are supposed to be the ones who keep up with giving their kids the money in the first place.

I'm sorry to disagree with you here, but I believe this is all on the parents. It's a lesson they are teaching both kids AND their folks. Being responsible means planning ahead - doing your homework and turning it in on time, studying for tests, showing up to school. AND bringing money for your lunch. It's about responsibility. I'll just bet that it doesn't happen again to those kids because the parents will grudgingly have learned their lesson.


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answers from Portland on

Ummm... first, consider the source. (I'm sorry, I'm a liberal progressive and even I find Huffpost rather navel-gazing in the worst ways, just as trashy and sensationalistic as any other tabloid...)

Reading this... sounds like a lot of people are not taking responsibility for themselves. The food service company should have stuck with policy, for sure.

But is THIS worth being 'outraged' about? Really? **REALLY**? First-world problem, in my opinion.

The dad who griped about prisoners getting food while 'my honor student gets nothing'-- uh, get a grip, please. Your honor student had boneheaded parents who blew off paying a bill. When bills don't get paid, services don't continue... kind of like in Real Life. Not only that, but where is there any responsibility?

Kids this age are capable of knowing if their card has a balance on it. Parents receive notifications. Everyone in that group is capable of making sandwiches and putting them in a bag to send to school. This is not rocket science. Getting all worked up and 'outraged' over this only makes them look like a bunch of ninnies.

I am hopefully not going to raise a ninny who expects everyone to rescue him from his assumed helplessness. If it had happened to my kid, I would have said "SO, where is the sheet they sent home from school telling us you had no money on your account? Why didn't you mention it to Dad or myself, or at least make yourself a sandwich? It's like you expected to get fed when you are running a debt, honey. "

Sorry, but this is a story more about nitwit behavior on many people's parts than any great injustice. Some kids got their feelings hurt. Let's take a look at the bigger picture, please. Our kids aren't being bombed in school by a regime government. Our children are not soldiers or working in sweatshops. We live in a democracy where they can post embarrassing information about themselves online and have so many, many opportunities. Big picture here, folks.... It will not harm our kids to get a few high-stress/short term lessons in responsibility. God forbid they learn some skills in dealing with life.

And everything Diane said, too. Seriously-- the schools have 'how much?' to do for the kids, and now they are expected to provide lunches for kids whose parents didn't do the job themselves? I think we'd all be feeling differently if the cafeteria ran out of food taking care of the kids who had no money on their account and our kid, with the paid-up card, got nothing. How does food service accurately predict how many lunches to provide if kids with negative balances are still expecting to be fed?

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answers from Iowa City on

Yes, the school should have provided the minimal cheese sandwich lunch (which most schools do) but I place most of the blame on the parents. There are generally text alerts, automated calls, email alerts, notes sent home, and a website available to check a lunch account balance and/or notify a parent when funds are getting low. Why send your honor roll student to school without a lunch or the money with which to buy it? If that father wants to be amgry , he should start with himself.

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answers from Columbia on

The mother and the democrat in me says this is horrible and I really feel for those kids who went hungry. That is inexcusable and should never have happened.

The republican/libertarian/buisnesswoman in me says what better time to really teach the lessons of business. There is a lunch ACCOUNT. Parents should be responsible for putting the appropriate amount of money in and making sure they are teaching the lesson to their kids that THEY are responsible for paying things on time. THEY are responsible for keeping track of their balance and making sure there is enough money. What better of a NATURAL CONSEQUENCE than for there to be no lunch if the money wasn't paid.

We wonder, as a society, why we have the highest rate of foreclosed homes in the world.... because people take out loans they can't afford and then default. We wonder why we are in bankruptcy as a nation. why congress can't produce a budget.

But we want to teach our children that they don't have to pay for lunch on time? That they can pay whenever they want... if at all... and still be fed?

These weren't kids who qualified for free or reduced lunches. These are kids who COULD pay.... but just didn't.

I'm not outraged. As a society we have done this to our nation. We have allowed there to be no consequences. And so there are no consequences, from the top down.

As a note.... I have a middle schooler. It is HER responsibility to make sure SHE keeps track of her school account. That she tells me BEFORE she needs to add money. And that she budgets what she pays for on that account, because she knows that she can only spend a certain amount per day.
This is because I want to raise her to know that she is responsible for making sure she is responsible for herself.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Our school used to send notes home when the money was low. Then again, and again... Once it was empty they would give the child a sandwich. If it continued then yes, they will not feed them. I wouldn't blame the school though but the parents. They could at least drop by the lunch room and explain any issues with money and work something out. In the end, it takes a while before the child goes without food so there's no excuse unless you just put it off. Yes it's sad that the child doesn't eat after repeated notes and sandwiches but it's even worse that the parent doesn't bother to do something about it until they are "enraged" that their child was not fed. Then again, this particular story sounds like someone in charge had a really bad day and took it out of kids. This isn't normal and can't be used as what goes on at schools.

Now they've created the online payment center and I get email notifications when it's low. I can put money into the accounts and I can also move money around between kids. It's pretty cool.

The reason why I really don't like the take on this story is that it teaches the children a very bad lesson: That "other" people are to blame. I don't like that at all.

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answers from Spokane on

It's called R.E.S.P.O.N.S.I.B.I.L.I.T.Y.

The unfortunate part is that the child of the irresponsible parent had to miss lunch instead of the parent. It does bother me that they were made to throw out a perfectly good meal, that just doesn't make sense! But at what point do you hold a family responsible?! When my son's acct. gets below $5 they stamp his hand and when it gets below $2 a note is sent home. If a child is ever in the negative they are given a sandwich. Our school does not allow "charging" and a child only gets a hot lunch if their acct is in the positive. Our school also allows families to apply for subsidized lunches.

What happens when one doesn't pay their electricity bill....eventually the electricity is shut off.

What happens when one doesn't pay their mortgage...eventually they lose their home.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

It wad a mistake and the workers involved have been placed on leave.
We can set our lunch acct. for an email when a low balance (amount of our choosing) is reached.
I think another question is why parents would knowingly send their kids to school without a lunch, lunch money or sufficient funds in their accounts! These are 5th and 6th graders!
Our school does the cheese sandwich & milk option as well or their account goes into a negative balance which is recovered upon the next deposit.
My son has missed lunch a few times due to lunchtime activities, etc.

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answers from Boston on

If I were the school, I would feed the kids and send home an email about the problem. If it gets to 5 missed/unpaid lunches, I would call the parents to come pick up the children and take them home for lunch. I think they could also send the kids to the library instead of out for recess since they haven't had enough food to give them energy to run around. The school should show it is concerned about children's health, and send them home for repeat "violations" or areas of neglect.

The US sends less than 1% of its budget to other countries in the forms of ALL foreign aid, not all of which is food. So I'd stop worrying about that. Parents want schools to feed their kids for nothing, but they don't want to pay for healthy lunch choices "because the kids don't like them." Teachers are spending THEIR OWN MONEY on supplies because the residents don't want their taxes raised. Parents don't pay enough taxes for their kids to have phys ed and art and music, then complain about the schools and pay for expensive after-school programs. They don't send in lunch money, but buy designer backpacks and iPhones for a 2 year old.

The problem is not that the US sends money overseas! The problem is priorities here at home! The problem is a sense of entitlement among parents. "You do it for me, I'm busy at work."

We also have to make legitimate exceptions for and provisions for people on fixed incomes or who have lost their jobs. At our local food pantry, you'd be shocked at who's in line because they've lost their jobs. So kids who are truly eligible for subsidized or free lunches (and breakfasts) should not be stigmatized as "takers" or "users" - they should be fed. And all the people who are against "big government" should realize that sometimes programs are there, and needed, for real people.

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answers from Salt Lake City on

The way my kid's school is run, They send several emails to the parents as the lunch balance gets lower, as a reminder that the parents need to hurry and make a payment. Perhaps this school does as well. Yeah, it sucks for the little kids who have to skip lunch. At the same time,the parents need to be responsible to get the lunch paid for and there is a consequence for not paying on time, as there should be. I do not understand why the parents would be outraged at the school refusing to give free lunch. It sounds like blame shifting to me.

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answers from Austin on

Well it was a mistake. Unfortunately, the Principal was out of the school and was not notified until the afternoon and has promised this will never happen again..
There ins no policy in place to deny lunches to students..

So at this point it is a non issue. The person that did this is under suspension until they have been spoken with and all of the children and families apologized to. Maybe it was a misunderstanding, maybe this person is new, but this school district does not have this rule in place.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

Yes, children should not be denied food but the buck ultimately stops with the parents. If they do not have the $ than they need to take steps to address that problem. For example, talk to school administration to work out payment plan rather than just ignore the problem and get upset when someone holds them accountable. I don't agree with how the school handled it but I feel even more distressed by the rationale that removes any kind of accountability on the part of the parent. I think the school is getting vilified unnecessarily. For example, I am struck by the post of the mom who went off on the lunch worker even after her son's school staff made sure he had lunch even though the account did not have the $$. She mentioned being pleased that her son remembers her putting this person in her place. I am sure this lunch worker also remembers being chewed out. What was her crime exactly? Not giving something away for free?
Yes, it is a child and should be given food but come on.

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answers from San Francisco on

This enrages me.There is NO excuse for them to do this! Punishing the children and withholding food for them is wrong on sooooo many levels. Even if they don't have enough money, send a note home! Or do it like they do at my child's elementary school. If you don't have money on your account or you forget to bring it etc, you can get the alternative meal of peanut butter and jelly, milk, apple etc. I think this was completely uncalled for and could have been dealt with in many other ways.

Punishing and shaming children should never be an option and that is just what happened here. So sad!

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answers from New York on

Bet these parents won't let that happen again. Tough love. If a parent is having serious financial difficulty, a all to school would help remedy the situation These might have been repeat offenders.

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answers from Honolulu on

1) per my kids' school: the school will, AHEAD of time, send a note home to the parents that their child's lunch account is low... like it being at the $5.00 mark. And thus, they REMIND the parents, ahead of time, about it and to send in a check or money for refill their kid's lunch account.
2) Parents, are known.... NOT to do this. Many parents do not... even read anything that their child brings home from school. Many parents do not even, look at their child's planner or homework folder. Many parents, do not even... keep track of what is going on per what is needed for school. This is highly, COMMON.
3) Thus, schools and the Teachers, are stuck. Some parents, even if there is a field trip, do not even... send excursion money for their child, nor do they send their kid to school prepared with a home-lunch or covered shoes on that day. EVEN if reminders were sent home AHEAD OF TIME. Thus, the child then, cannot go on the field trip. It is, the parent's fault... not the school's.
- ETA: AND, many parents, feel that their child should be fully "independent" about things and do things themselves per things required for school/homework etc. Thus,' and if their child is missing something or does not have things prepared or brought to school, they think their child is at fault and not doing what they are supposed to. But, everyday, kids bring things home that is ALSO for only the parent, to take care of. Adult, parental matters. Like the school lunch account reminders and field trip info and reminders and parental memos and any other things that a parent, SHOULD be doing and looking at and sending to the school FOR their child. But again, many parents do not even keep track nor look at nor reads, what their kids brings home.

4) Per my kids' school... this happens. And it happens to many kids. The parents do not, upkeep or even do, what they are supposed to, per their child's lunch accounts or classroom preparations.

5) At my kids' school: IF a child's lunch account is empty.... and the parent's have NOT sent their child to school with a home-lunch (because this is a parent's responsibility), then, the school will give the child a cup of water and bread or a carb. They cannot however, give the child a WHOLE school lunch... because- KEEP in mind, that each day... the cafeteria only makes a certain count of lunches, and it costs them money, too. They have their school cafeteria budgets etc. AND they cannot just give away lunches, for free. Each day, each morning, there is a headcount of how many kids have a homelunch... thus, the cafeteria knows how many kids will be having school, lunches. Then based on that, the cafeteria makes the lunch plates per that headcount. EACH day. Not even school staff... can have a free, cafeteria lunch if there is extra. EACH plate, is accounted for.

6) Now, per those 25 students you spoke of in your post: they did not get a lunch because their lunch accounts were empty... or they were short on funds. THIS IS THE PARENT'S FAULT. Not the school's. Schools DO inform parents ahead of time, when a child's lunch account is getting low.
AND- if a parent... knows that their child's lunch account is low or if they cannot get a check in to the school for it... THEN IT IS THE PARENT'S RESPONSIBILITY... to make and give their child, a HOME-lunch for that day or week etc.
It is the parent's, responsibility.
A school, well at least my kids' school, they send home EACH month ahead of time, the school menu for an entire month. SO THAT, the parent's can plan, ahead, FOR their child.
AND if a child, does not like a certain menu item, then it is the parent's responsibility to think AHEAD... and give their child a home-lunch for that day.
I work at my kids' school... and everyday, I see kids who DO NOT even eat, the school lunch. Why? Because they say the don't like it. So I tell them.... YOU SHOULD HAVE... known that and your Mom should have given you a homelunch for today, because.... you have the school Menu at home to refer to. AND in these cases, they are wasting money... both for their parent and the school's food/cafeteria budget. Because they are not eating what they have.
So this situation, occurs, too.
AND if a child does have a school lunch to eat, but then refuses to eat it because they don't like it, well they "starve" too. But it is their own, choice. And their parent's, fault. They SHOULD HAVE, brought a home-lunch to school.
And if a kid is choosing not to eat the school lunch because they don't like it... we the school staff, cannot FORCE the child, to eat. And again, they should have... brought a home-lunch to school. Again, it is the parents responsibility. It is not the school that is starving, the child.

It is NOT always, the school's fault.
Parents have a responsibility too. To look after their child's school needs and lunch account levels.
And schools, have a budget. Some days they do not even, have ANY extra, entrees. Either. Even if that is the school Principal. Even a school Principal, has to pay for their school lunch.

And, if a parent does not get or see, the "reminder" memo that is sent home for their child's school lunch account to refill it... THEN the parent also has the responsibility... to call the school and simply ASK the office staff "Hi, can you tell me my child's school lunch account balance?"
To find out, for themselves.

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answers from Chicago on

I see both sides.

I'm willing to bet that the parents were notified, and notified again.

We're also not talking about first graders, we're talking about middle schoolers, who should have SOME sort of responsibility.

Back in "my day" we didn't have accounts. We had cash, and if I forgot my cash I went hungry! That made me VERY responsible. We didn't have teachers or lunch ladies walking around making sure we all had at least a cheese sandwich. Either I brought my cash, borrowed from a friend, or went hungry.

If the policy was a cheese sandwich, then the school should have followed the policy and those LUCKY kids should have gotten a cheese sandwich.

In my gymnastics/cheer classes I have LOTS of parents who just send their kids and don't pay! The new session starts, and they just don't sign them up again. It takes WEEKS for the parents to "get around to signing up." Meanwhile, their kid is in my class, and my boss isn't making money.

We finally got so fed up that the kids have to sit on the side if they are not on the roster. They cry, especially since some of them are dropped off and there's nothing they can do. I'm telling you, it's the SAME KIDS, session after session. And we remind the parents via email, notes home and text that the new session is starting so the parents know.

I know it seems cruel, and I think not getting lunch is a much worse issue than missing a gymnastics class, but the message needs to be sent to these parents that they need to STEP UP. And if you can't afford lunch, there are things you can do. Don't just ignore it!

The kids need to be more responsible too. Like I said, in middle school I was responsible for my own lunch money. If I could do it, they can do it too.

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answers from New York on

i will not read the article as i think i know what happened. i say this, no money, no lunch. i don't care how old the child is. i have my reasons why i say so, a lot of american parents feel entitled, as in, don't talk to my child, don't reprimand my child no matter how annoying or out of line the child is, and yes please, feed my child, when my head is up my butt and i don't stay on top of things.
i grew up in one of third world places you talk about, and trust me, not a single american cent was spent on my people. we did get 'aid' in food from caritas (a catholic charity organization) and that included oil, powdered milk, flour, and with that my mom was able to feed the three of us. i went to school 6 hours a day, most days i didn't have food, so whomever of my friends had to spare they did and i had a bite or two, on other days my mom made me a cheese sandwich. and i shared that with whoever didn't have food. no one blamed anything on anyone, you either had food or you didn't. it wasn't the school's responsibility to feed all of us poor folks.
so wear your big girl panties and do what you have to do. if your account is missing a dollar, don't yell at the school's employee, get mad at yourself and tell your child mommy was irresponsible and won;t happen again. end of story.

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answers from Milwaukee on

First thoughts - I am glad to see that the superintendent of the school district stepped right in & made administrative changes effective immediately so that this doesn't happen. It sounds like there were safeguards in place (cheese sandwich & milk) that were not enforced.

There are always 2 sides to every story, but the net effect here is that children were humiliated, & left hungry. That shouldn't have happened, & hopefully going forward it won't again.

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answers from Columbus on

I have several comments about this - first, there is a big chance the parents and/or children already had been sent several notices that their account was empty and/or low and the notices were ignored. I know for my school, I am notified by email when our account gets below $10.00. I'll either reload it myself or give my kids money and they turn it in at school. A lot of parents don't do this - I saw it happen many times when I would volunteer at school.

Second, if the kids already had the lunch on their tray, I think it's disgusting that the employee made them throw it away - where's the logic in that? So now, not only do you have a child going hungry, you've just wasted the food and now no one will get to eat it. That's despicable!

The problem here, in my opinion, is the students may not know how much money is in their account until they get to the cashier - at that point it is too late!

The food service people need to give the teachers a list of students who have no money in their accounts - and without embarrassing the children, the teachers need to notify the student; that way they'll know when they get to the cafeteria, they'll have to just be satisfied with the cheese sandwich or whatever is offered.

Hopefully the employees of that food service company will be re-trained so they follow the policy correctly!!

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answers from Biloxi on

My son called me crying hysterically from elementary school once - he was in 2nd or 3rd grade. He went in to have breakfast, got his tray, then got to the check out station. Where they took the tray away from him and told him he didn't have any money on his account (he didn't even know what an account was!). I mean literally took the tray from his hands and put it up.

By the time the phone call was over and I had spoken to the school secretary, breakfast was over, so the secretary and his teacher pulled together items from their lunch boxes and cobbled together a meal for him. The teacher went through the lunch line with him and ensured he got lunch that day.

I went to the school in the morning, got his breakfast, sat him down, and absolutely chewed out the "lunch lady". Explaining that you don't take food away from a child and expect him to be able to comprehend the account balance. I was sooo beyond livid. My son, he enjoyed watching Mommy go off on the lady. He still talks about it - and he is 16 now.

Being 16 he is aware of his lunch balance - but his High School will refuse to serve students who have a negative account. Which still torques me as I know the school is reimbursed (at varying levels) by the State Department of Child Nutrition, so they are not losing any money by serving lunch to a child who is short on funds one day. I ran a snack program for Boys & Girls Clubs and worked with the Department of Child Nutrition so I understand the reimbursement program. And my point of contact with the Department was appalled when he heard the story and the point of the program is to ensure that children receive food.

I find the entire thing utterly ridiculous. When school lunches are subsidized I believe they could feed children and collect the money from the parents the next day. There needs to be an understanding that sometimes these school meals are the only meals that children get. That sometimes parents run short and need to pay the electric bill first. Etc. etc.

Because it has happened to my child, this is a very hot button topic for me. It just pisses me off to hear that children are being denied food in the very school that is supposed to help nurture them. Hungry children do not learn.

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answers from Boise on

Our local school will feed you, you are allowed to be negative to a certain amount and then if it's not paid you will get a cold lunch, nothing fancy but you won't be hungry.

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answers from San Francisco on

I feel exactly as you do. I DO NOT think one penney should be sent out of this country to feed children elsewhere when even one child in America is hungry. Period!

In my district, children are given lunch even if they don't have any money. Notes and calls will and are made to the parents if there is no money on the account, but that is worked out between the staff and parents and the child is NEVER refused a lunch - even the main meal. We don't have a "salad bar."

And no, it's not hard for a 12- 15 year old child to say hey mom, dad, I need lunch money BUT who's to say that mom and dad have any money to give or even any food in the house to pack a lunch for him/her. I have been in that situation as a very young adult - no money/no food. Sat and watched my friends eat lunch and just said I wasn't hungry/didn't feel well, etc., because I had no food and no money. It really does happen.

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answers from Wausau on

Our district has an automated system that is supposed to call when a lunch account is under $5. It doesn't always work correctly though. It isn't unheard of for the call to come in with a +$0.60 balance or -$1.95 debt, etc. We can log on to the district site and check at any time, so I do my best to keep an eye on it.

The official policy at the elementary level (K-6) is 'no charging allowed' but they allow it anyway and notify the parents. They also have an 'emergency sandwich & milk' policy to make sure no one goes hungry. If it becomes a habit, then the parents are not just informed but called in to discuss the free/reduced program, etc.

From 7th grade up, if you don't have funds then you don't get to eat. Period. They don't even have an 'emergency sandwich' policy.

We had a close call this year when our account went too low. Fortunately my 7th grader has lunch first and my 5th grader second, so he was allowed to charge. If it had been the other way around, the 7th grader would not have been able to have lunch.

The policy is clear and known, so it would have been my fault, not the school's fault, if my 7th grader had to go hungry that day.

Now that said, we're also not dealing with the inability to pay either. All schools should make sure that parents know about the free/reduced lunch program and parents should not be too proud to make use of it if they qualify. The thought of a kid going hungry tears my heart apart regardless of the reason.

It sounds like the main issue in the Coelho school is that they have a free-sandwich & milk policy for cases like this and didn't follow it. That IS a legitimate problem. Putting the person on leave to investigate is appropriate.

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answers from Redding on

I didn't read the article, I just wanted to say that I live in a very rural district. Everybody pretty much knows everybody. Their policy, even at the high school, is that no child will go hungry.

They know the kids whose parents are having problems. They know the kids whose parents are neglectful. To humiliate a child because of their parents is the wrong thing to do. There are kids who only eat at school. That's not their fault. Look, food is meant to be eaten. Throwing it away or withholding it isn't teaching the kid the intended lesson which should actually be meant for the parents.

Situations like this warrant some investigation.
If the family is low income, how hard is it to complete a form for the child to receive free or reduced meals?
If the family isn't low income, how hard can it be to keep money on their account OR send them with a sandwich, some fruit, and a granola bar?

I raised two kids by myself as a single mom. There is no excuse for not making sure that your child has a way to eat at school. There is no excuse for letting a child go through that humiliation.

In this case, the school believed they had to take a stand and I agree with that. However, withholding food from the kid was not the way to go about it.
Parents who don't care, simply don't care.
Punishing a kid for that over food is wrong.

Just my opinion.

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answers from Dallas on

The problem with this story is that they has already provided the students with a lunch tray. Then realized the past due accounts and made the students throw away the tray. Yes it it the responsiblity for the parents to keep the account current and this would not have happened. But to provide a tray and then to take it away was wrong in my opinion. According to the story if the account was past due the children receive cheese sandwich and milk this was not provided in place of the wasted food thrown away. Will the kids starve to death for missing a meal? No, but if I was behind on my account ( never have been) I would expect my child to be given what ever the school provids in a situation like that.

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answers from Chicago on

I haven't attend public school a day in my life, and my Catholic school had no hot lunch program. But, my school would never have let a child go without lunch. The secretary kept a refrigerator in her office with PB&J sandwiches or cheese sandwiches, and we kids gave part of our lunches to the kids without lunch.

It is disgusting that they made the children THROW AWAY THE FOOD! How wasteful and cruel--there obviously wasn't a shortage of food if they could afford to throw it out.

That being said, why are these parents not angry with THEMSELVES for not funding their kids' lunch accounts? I wonder what kind of communication might have already happened (or not) about the lunch accounts being low or empty. The parents need to step up to the plate (pun intended) at some point.

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answers from Tampa on

I would be sooo upset! My son has gone OVER balance on his lunch account, he usally takes his to school so I really don't pay attention to the account so much. But even when he does they still let him get lunch and they send a reminder.

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answers from Spokane on

working in a school cafiteria for 2 years i may be able to clarify this a little. they do send notes home and even call. they can only let the child eat for free for one day then they are to give them a tray to eat off the salad bar till the balance is paid. the children are able to eat they just do not get the main meal. the child may not want to eat the sides to the meal causing the child to go hungry. this is not the schools fault.
now watching the link the lunch workers did not address the situation correctly. they should have not made the children throw the lunch away. but on the other side is it that hard for the child who is 12-15 years old to say mom, dad i need lunch money. they are more then capable of remembering to say they need money.

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answers from Houston on

The school screwed up. The person in charge was placed on leave. The school administrator said it will never happen again.
It was a unfortunate situation.

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answers from Milwaukee on

If the school is having trouble collecting money they should enlist a collection agency - not throw this kids under the bus like this. This has to break some privacy laws??

These kids cannot help their parents poor choices in paying their bills. Either pay and keep the balance current or fill out the paperwork to qualify for free or reduced lunch!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Just my reactions at the moment.

This was an error by what I think is a private company, providing services within the school. The school, which contracts with this company, addressed the issue. I think the company employees behaved innappropriately and the child's parent worse.

At no time should society humiliate children by stickers or separate lines (I have seen both over the years.) when they have qualified for free/reduced lunch or when their parents have irresponsibly not paid. We would never put that sticker on an adult. But perhaps, that would be appropriate for the parents in this circumstance!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I think it is wrong. Our school sends out weekly phone calls if my kids lunch accounts fall below $5. That covers them for two lunches. My kids also know not to buy unless I tell them they can. There is always food at home to pack, so that is what they are supposed to do.

Our schools also provide a ham and cheese sandwich or a pb&j sandwich plus a piece of fruit if there is no money. They do allow kids to go a little bit negative in their accounts also.

I'd be PISSED if this happened to my kid and they weren't allowed to call me. Yes, it's my responsibility to make sure they have money, but things happen and kids should never be denied food because of it.

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answers from San Francisco on

There are lots of kids on free and reduced lunch here, so refusing kids food isn't a common occurrence, at least in CA.

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answers from Rockford on

This reminds me of something that happened at our freshman campus...a child went to buy lunch, there wasn't enough money in his account, so they threw his pizza in the garbage and said "no lunch." REALLY???? So wasting it was better? ( heard this from a friend who's son was in line w/ this person.)

On the flip side, as a parent I get emails when my child's account gets low, AND my kids are able to track what they spend, so they SHOULDN'T run low. But it has happened! My kids will get lil "extras" and I don't realize they have used up all of their money, so they don't have enough that one time they want a milk. That kinda falls on them! I feel bad, but at the same time, I pack my kids a lunch every day, and tell them they can get a drink and once in awhile a treat and they get hot lunch once a week (and just doing that still costs me about $80 a month...damn a la carte!)

Anyway, I see both shouldn't go hungry, but in our age of communication, accounts shouldn't go low and if parents truly don't have the money, they either need to apply for assistance or send their child w/ a cold lunch. Just my thoughts!


answers from Hartford on

Schools in our town aren't allowed to do this. On the rare occasion that it's happened because a particular lunch lady decided to "teach a lesson" they were reprimanded. They're supposed to give the child an IOU to send home and they notate the bill on the child's computerized lunch account. If the parent refills the account online or sends in money, it's automatically taken care of.


answers from Reno on

I think the one thing that bothered me was they had the kids throw away the lunch. I can not imagine all the food wasted.
I am not sure how lunch prices work, my kids go to private school and they fill out a lunch form once a week and i attach a check. The lunch lady makes everything on site, she does make a little extra but not much. I do know that if a child forgets their lunch (we have grades K-8) they will call parents first to see if they can bring them anything and if not they give them hot lunch and bill you.
But throwing away all that food bothered me.
Many blessings



answers from St. Louis on

at my kid's school, if you are short on funds, you can get a sandwich (cheese or the like) and a drink, and in middle school an email is sent about the funds, in high school, they are informed and it is up to the student to tell parent

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