A Texas mom says she’s angry over a breakfast thrown away by a cafeteria worker because the child was short 30 cents in the cafeteria line.
Let’s say you work in a school cafeteria and a child who’s already on a reduced lunch plan — a sign his parents already fall below an income limit and that the meals he eats at lunch may be the only fully balanced meals he gets — walks up with his breakfast.
You tell him that the total due is 30¢. His food account is empty and he doesn’t have the 30¢.
Forget school policy for a moment. Forget the rules.
What would you do?
Would you take the food from the child and throw it away because he couldn’t pay the 30¢? That’s what a Texas mom says happened at her son’s school.
Her son called her, she says, and asked if she’d bring him money because the account he uses to pay for his reduced lunches was empty. The school, based on a policy of not allowing students to “charge” breakfast, refused to serve the child food until they had money in hand and sent the child to class.
The school says that students are told to let their parents know when their money accounts start to get low. In addition, it says written warnings are sent home before the money runs out.
This particular mom says either her son forgot to relay a warning or she forgot to add money to the account.
I’d say it was likely both at the same time.
Still, mistakes happen. It would be one thing if the child was trying to buy a school t-shirt to show off his campus pride. But we’re talking about a middle schooler who had to go without breakfast.
Is it worth being that hardline over 30¢ when a child needs a meal?
Common sense, it seems to me, would have been to feed the child, then call the parents immediately and tell them that he wouldn’t be allowed back into the cafeteria until he paid up on the balance due.
Sure, it’s a little extra paperwork.
But it’s also nourishing a child. Shouldn’t that be more important?
What do you think? Should the school or school district change its policy? Should the cafeteria worker just gone out on his or her own and let him eat with the promise of paying the bill the next day?