Kindergartner 'Lunch-Shamed,' Told to Return Food for Not Having Enough Money in Her Student Account

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Tony Katz

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Kindergartner 'Lunch-Shamed,' Told to Return Food for Not Having Enough Money in Her Student Account

Granfather of Girl Calls Cafeteria Walk of Shame 'Unnecessary,' 'Humiliating'

(AndreaObzerova/Getty Images)

A six-year-old Greenwood kindergartner student was 'lunch shamed' by other students after being instructed to return her tray of hot food by a cafeteria aide who discovered she didn't have enough money in her student account to pay for the $2.25 meal.

Dwight Howard, the grandfather of Anya Howard, 6, told WISH-TV that the Southwest Elementary student was told to return to the back of the lunch line to wait for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, adding several classmates laughed at her and made her feel "sad."

Anya's grandfather said he felt the "cafeteria walk of shame" was unnecessary and humiliating.

"When she was talking to me about it, she was more than 'sad,'" he said. "I mean, that's embarrassing for a little 6-year-old."

WISH-TV reported that Anya's cafeteria credit had dipped to $0.10, according to a note from the school dated Friday. Her grandfather provided a copy to local media and said the school hadn't previously alerted their family of her account status.

"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," Dwight told WISH-TV.

Parents are issued payment reminders when lunch accounts have $5 remaining, according to Dr. Kent DeKoninck, the Greenwood Community Schools superintendent.

"It is not an uncommon occurrence for multiple students to be served the alternate lunch on any given day," he said Monday in an emailed statement to WISH-TV. "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."

WIBC host Tony Katz put forth a simple solution to resolve the issue of children being 'lunch shamed' at school.

"Now I will say that if you don't have the money, you shouldn't get the lunch. That's just the way it goes. But you could eliminate the hassle, because if you don't find out the kid doesn't have enough money until they get to the front of the line, what are you going to do? Throw the lunch out? What sense does that make?

The kids should check the card first. My goodness; this shouldn't even be a story. This should be something that we fix and move on to the next thing. 

You don't get the lunch if you don't pay for it, but you don't want to send the kid back when they're at the front of the line. That IS embarrassing. 

Check the card before the giving the kid the lunch. Problem solved."

Click the link below to hear Tony's full commentary.

Tony Katz
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