Student Denied School Lunch Over 15¢ Debt


A student in Florida had her school lunch taken away and tossed out when she didn’t have 15 cents to pay for it, according to the child’s mother.

An angry mother says when her daughter was 15¢ short when she tried to pay for her school lunch, a cafeteria worker took the food back and threw it out.

Yes, it looks like the new school year is off to a terrific start. This incident happened at an Orange City, Florida, high school, WKMG-TV reported this week.

As I read this, the problem was that this student had an overdue balance of 15¢ that carried over from her freshman year. The cashier, I gather, told the student she owed the change, but the student had no cash.

The student told her mother that the cafeteria worker took her lunch and threw it in the trash, apparently in front of the student.

On the first day of school, with all the stress kids are already facing, why would a school possibly think it’s a good idea to add to it in this manner over so little an amount of money?

Did the family know about the overdue balance? They certainly should have, if the school did its job and let them know at the end of the previous year.

Did the school alert the student’s family to the fact that she wouldn’t be able to eat lunch if she didn’t bring that amount of money? We don’t know.

We do know, from the story, that the family had applied for a free or reduced lunch, so while 15¢ may not seem like a lot at all, for a family that needs such a service, it might be a huge deal.

It seems to me that the school should have alerted the cafeteria staff to the fact that the application process was underway. That, and the student should have been able to have lunch at least until a decision was made and the program was in place.

For most of the families who actually need a reduced-rate or free lunch, it’s an embarrassing situation to be in. The last thing this poor girl needed was to be further embarrassed by the cafeteria staff taking her food and disposing of it.

The story ends with this interesting footnote: the student took a quarter to school the next day to pay off the overdue balance. At that point, the child’s mother said the school said she had a zero balance and that there was nothing to worry about.

That news, I think, clearly came one day too late.

Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.