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A kindergartner says she was 'lunch-shamed' over a cafeteria balance and forced to return her hot meal

INSIDER logoINSIDER 5/22/2019 Susanna Heller
a girl wearing a pink dress standing in front of a brick building © WISH TV

The family of a kindergarten student in Indiana says a 6-year-old was "lunch-shamed" and told she had to return her tray of food because her account balance couldn't cover the meal. Now, they want the policy changed, WMBF News reports.

Dwight Howard said that on Friday his granddaughter Anya was made to return her hot lunch because her account balance had only $0.10, and so she couldn't pay for her $2.25 meal.

Anya, a kindergarten student at Southwest Elementary School in Greenwood, Indiana, was told to walk past 20 other students and get back on the lunch line, Dwight said. Anya told WMBF that when she got back on line she saw other students "laughing" at her.

In exchange for her hot lunch, she was offered a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, according to AJC.

"When she was talking to me about it, she was more than 'sad,'" Dwight told WMBF News. "I mean, that's embarrassing for a little 6-year-old."

Now, he wants the school district to change its policy so other students won't be told to go on what he calls a "cafeteria walk of shame."

That day, Anya came home with a note saying the account's balance was $0.10, according to WISH. This was the first time the family was told about her account's status.

Kent Deigning, the Greenwood Community Schools superintendent, told WISH that its district protocol to tell a student's family when an account balance is below $5.

Read more: The school district where a cafeteria worker was fired for giving a student free food has rescinded its demand that she be rehired

However, according to the note given to Anya, this would no longer be the case beginning on Monday, May 13.

"If there is not enough money in your child's account to cover the entire meal, they will be receiving a peanut butter sandwich and a milk," the note given to her said.

"It is not an uncommon occurrence for multiple students to be served the alternate lunch on any given day," wrote DeKoninck told WMBF. "Any time this happens, our staff looks to handle all of these as discreetly as possible."

But Dwight maintains that it's an unfair, ostracizing practice.

"They waited until there was a dime left, denied her the opportunity to eat the lunch that she had [been served and tried to pay for] and then she had to go to the end of the line to wait for a PB&J," he told WMBF.

The concept of "lunch-shaming" is nothing new. Recently, a school district in Rhode Island made waves for only serving students cold sun butter and jelly sandwiches if they owed money. After facing nation-wide backlash, the policy was canceled.



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