Most of us have come up against a bully at some time in our lives. Perhaps it was when we were in grade school and the bully would pick on us during recess. It may also be at work when we are older and some people even have a bully at home. It is a serious problem and most people recognize that it is an issue that needs to be addressed.
Unfortunately, bullying happens in more places than on the playground at school. There is a new area where it seems to be an ongoing issue, and that is in the lunch room. In fact, we are hearing more and more about ‘lunch shaming’ when a student falls behind on having money in their account. They are sometimes refused food or served a more basic meal as a result. Those kids are being singled out and their classmates may tease them.
In Indiana, a kindergartner named Anya Howard experienced this very problem. She had picked up her tray of hot food but a cafeteria aide told the six-year-old girl she had to go to the back of the line. There wasn’t enough money in her account to cover the $2.25 lunch.
This didn’t happen privately, it happened in front of 20 other classmates. She had to wait at the back of the line for her peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
She said: “They were laughing at us,” speaking of the students who saw her being sent to the back of the line.
The little girl wasn’t equipped to handle the giggling classmates so her grandfather is speaking out for her. He is a former teacher and he wants the district administrators to review the policies in the cafeteria.
Her grandfather, Dwight Howard said “When she was talking to me about it, she was more than ‘sad’. I mean, that’s embarrassing for a little 6-year-old.”
According to district policy, any account that goes below five dollars receives a reminder. The problem is, the family was not notified about Anya’s account and it was at $.10.
“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 said.
A district official provided a statement stating that the denial of lunch is standard procedure.
“It is not an uncommon occurrence for multiple students to be served the alternate lunch on any given day,” Kent DeKoninck, Greenwood Community Schools superintendent, said in an email sent to News 8.
“Any time this happens, our staff looks to handle all of these as discreetly as possible. … We do allow elementary students to charge two hot meals before receiving the alternate meal,” he said.
Howard is not satisfied with the explanation. He said that the walk of shame is both humiliating and unnecessary.
It seems as if the school district has taken some action. They sent a note along with the payment reminder to her parents saying that they would not allow children to receive a hot meal if the accounts were unpaid.
“Starting Monday 5/13/2019 we are no longer allowing any Café accounts to go into the negative,” the note from Southwest Elementary School reads. “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.”
There have been no public comments from the cafeteria worker or the school principal.
H/T: Cafe Mom