Outrage over Salt Lake City school lunches thrown out to punish students behind on lunch accounts sheds a spotlight on this recurring trend in American schools. Promising every child will eat regardless of finances, the Utah school system under fire for tossing out children’s food announced drastic changes to its policy. Still, other school systems have similar practices.
Calling it “humiliating,” the mother of a New Jersey fifth grader went public with her son’s story after hearing about events in Salt Lake City. The Jersey Shore student’s lunch has been repeatedly thrown out over a two year period.
A Texas man, Kenny Thompson, investigated Dallas schools after hearing about students’ troubles in Utah and found more of the same. He discovered children fed inadequate cold meals like cheese sandwiches, peanut butter sandwiches and jelly sandwiches because their lunch accounts were behind. Thompson decided he should do something so with just under five hundred dollars, he abolished debt of 60 Dallas students .
In 2013, there was a stream of stories about students humiliated in cafeterias, their food thrown out, over lunchroom debt.
A San Antonio mother reported her daughter’s meal was thrown out because she was short seventy cents. In Massachusetts, 25 students reported lunches were thrown away and they went home hungry without even a cold sandwich to sustain them. Outrage over both incidents changed policy of the local schools. “(….) when there are people in prison who are getting meals”, one Massachusetts parent told local reporters at the Sun Chronicle, “my daughter, an honor student, is going hungry.”
Missouri students experienced more of the same and the besieged school system changed policy. A North Carolina student, unaware he had a negative cafeteria balance, reported that his lunch was nearly taken away from him as he sat down to eat but Dominic Russell gave cafeteria workers five dollars, told them to keep the change, then finished his food. Once again, the local school system was apologetic and promised changes. Its safe to assume there are more stories dating back years. Will U.S. schools enacting these questionable punishments change their policies now or wait until they are in the spotlight?