On January 28, CNN reported that many children’s school lunches were being taken away from them if they had a negative balance on their accounts. “The trays were grabbed from pupils at Uintah Elementary School…before they could even take a bite — because they had negative balances in the accounts used to pay for lunches,” school officials acknowledged.
On January 31, the same “lunch grabbing” incident happened in Loudoun County, Virginia—the richest county in the U.S.– to my friend’s son. He said,
This story just happened to my son today. He found out that he was low on his lunch account balance and had to give the lunch tray back to the cashier and go hungry. What really upsets me is that the lunch lady did not let him know yesterday that his balance was low. He was so hungry after school.
My friend wrote a letter to the principal after school Friday and is awaiting a response. He and other parents like him are not people who are trying to abuse the system; they are parents who simply want their kids to be fed.
Personally, I am appalled. I know students, friends of my daughter’s in high school in Fairfax County–the 2nd richest county in the nation–who were afraid to eat after being “outed” by cafeteria workers. These kids were being told, in front of other students, that they were getting reduced/free lunch. So how do I know some of these kids aren’t eating? Because they often eat at my home after school, and I’ve also helped their families with groceries. These children were not “abusing the system”; they just wanted to eat.
Taking care of our children should be one of the first values we have in America. I can imagine the embarrassment and shame these children must have felt in front of their peers.
I will follow up with what happens after the response. Please pray for our children and our schools.