Children's Lunches Taken Away

  1. I have triplet daughters in 6th grade. They just went into Middle School this year and it's a big adjustment. They have 'lunch accounts' that a balance is maintained in and they swipe their ID cards, similar to a debit card, for buying lunches.

    Well, apparently two of my girls let their accounts go into a negative balance by about $4. So today, in front of all the other children (my girls just happened to be first in line), the lunch lady said "I told you needed money! Now I have to take your food away." And she took their lunch trays from them, in front of all the other children. My other daughter had a positive balance and said she'd just buy them something and she was told she wasn't allowed to do that. My children walked away red-faced, near tears, and empty handed.

    I AM APPALLED!!! I AM FURIOUS!!! I have written a scathing letter and am hand-delivering it to the school tomorrow and the School Board. I cannot believe they let two children go hungry and publicly humiliated them this way!! Why did they not CALL ME or suggest to my children that they call me?! I would have brought them food and/or money! My girls are now afraid to buy lunch in the cafeteria again and are begging me to pack them lunches. This is very unfortunate because they generally love the food and the choices offered there not to mention the fact that I hate to pack lunches.

    Am I overreacting? I know they need to learn to be more responsible but I'm furious they were humiliated and not permitted to eat! Their friends gave them crackers and such!!! They should have called me and, at the very least, taken the girls aside and told them not to get in line...not take their food away in front of all the other kids!
  2. 52 Comments

  3. by   debbyed
    I don't think you are over reacting. I'd be yelling, screaming and threatening legal action (regardless of how inappropriate). They would definitally know that the last children they are to Pi$$ with were MY CHILDREN. But of course I have always been that way. I'd make threats I could never follow-through with just for the sake of threatening and to let them know that if there is ever the smallest problem related to my children that someone had better be on the phone to me.

    Of course quietly in the backround I'd be explaining to my children that they also have a responsibility to either call home or have someone else call home when there is a problem.

    But I guarentee that both the principal and the school board would remember my name for quite a while to come.

    P.S. In case you're wondering, yes I had to do this. It only took once, believe me because after that every adult at my youngest childs school knew that if there were ever the smallest question or problem they were to call me. My son had a mild learning disability and just decided no to go to Vo-tech in the afternoon's( he was 13). After a week we were called into the principles office at Vo-tech acussed of not providing my son transportation to V0-Tech. In short, the first day my son didn't show up at Vo-Tech the Principle there asked another student why James wasn't there. The student said he got kicked off the bus (Not true) and the principle never followed up on it until the next week when we were called in. My son had never been kicked off the bus(as confirmed by the bus drived who actually questioned Jame's absence to the Vo-Tech teacher ). James just decided not to go. In reality my son was lost by the school for every afternoon for 5 days( and no adult in that school felt it was a problem, he wasn't on an absentee role as he went to his morning classes at his home school). You have no idea the He!! I raised, not to menthion the law suits I threatened. I would have never followed through with the law suits, but from that day on I was sure that if my son wasn't exactally where he was supposed to be when he was supposed to be there I got a phone call.
  4. by   aimeee
    Wow. That does sound like the lunch lady is rather caught up in lording it over the kids. I'll bet they were absolutely mortified. And weird that they wouldn't let another child from the same family pay for the other lunches. Seems pretty harsh to me.

    They have a no money, no lunch policy here too in middle school. And the kids aren't allowed to use the office phone except for true emergencies. For all other instances, forgotten lunches, books, band instruments, etc. they must use the pay phone. When my daughter or her friends forget their lunches or lunch money now their friends all take some item from their lunch and contribute it.
  5. by   janine3&5
    I'd want to kill someone...the lunch lady! That is horrible, your girls must have been so embarassed. YES, definitely do something about it! I would want to speak with the principal and the lunch lady together. AND let the school board know.

    (We have a debit type system for our school system's lunches. We're allowed a maximum $5.00 credit for situations like this, with a note sent home that day letting you know that the lunch account needs funds. Then, if the parent still doesn't send money, an alternate lunch of a sandwich and juice is provided. It is amazing to me that any school would not have some kind of back up plan like this. And to not let another sibling pay? That's just flat out wrong)
  6. by   prmenrs
    I agree w/ Janine--lunch lady waaay outta line!! And I agree about the sandwich and milk--which is free in a lot of districts. I think a PUBLIC apology would be quite appropriate!

    My son's jr hi had 85% of the kids qualifying for free or reduced cost lunches. One year they experimented with letting everyone have free lunches--they all had 'pins' to punch into a key pad. I think they figured it was cheaper than the bookkeeping. We don't qualify for either, so I just mark it in my date book when I need to pay them again.

    Sometimes, I think I have a + balance @ the end of the year, but they never send me any $$ back!
  7. by   Dplear
    My sons school has the same system...they punch in their pin number and the amt of the lunch is deducted from their account. If I should forget to send a check each month, theyn are still allowed to get lunxh and a notice is sent home with them reminding me that they need more money in their account. If i should not pay anything at all, then the school will provide them with a sack lunch lke a PB&J and milk and a fruit and chips or something like that.

    As for the school knowing who a parent is...let me tell you this one. I got a call about 3 weeks ago from the my wife while she was at work. I was out and about shopping and running around. She got a call from the school nurse saying my oldest son was ion the clinic complaining of a headache. I immediately call the school and was told that the school nurse had just left. I asked about my son and I was told that he must have been sent back to class as if he was still in the clinic when the nurse leaves the kids are sent to the front office. I say okay and leave it at that. about 30 minutes later I get a call from my oldest son at home! My mother in law lives with us and the SUBSTITUE school nurse called my house and my poor mother in law got scared and had a neighbor drive her up to the school and pick up my son.
    I immediately went to the school and demanded to know why they did not tell me he was still in the clinic when I called up there and why had they not called me on my cell number which is actually the primary number to call me on as I always have it on and with me. I may not always answer my phone in the day but I always answer my cell phone for this precise reason. (and only a few people have my cell number)...the substitute nurse said she always calls trghe house first and then the mom if she has a work number. I pointed out that I WAS THE PRIMARY contact person fopr my kids during the day as I am always available during the day since I work nights. Needless to say I immedioately went to the principals office and let her have a piece of my mind..(needless to say a SMALL piece...I have too little to lose much...LOL)...well the next day the REAL school nurse for the school called me and apologized up and down and said she would never forget me and what to do if my kids are sick at school again.
  8. by   kaycee
    My kids just started that same system this year. The lunch people are supposed to let them know when their accounts are getting low.
    Along with everything else you plan to do, I would ask to speak to that particular lunch lady so I could give her a piece of my mind.
    I would want to make sure she was dealt with in some way or made to personally apologize to my kids. We teach are kids they are responsible for their actions. They should also know that adults are too and this woman owes them and you an apology!!
  9. by   JennieBSN
    Jesus....where'd they get this lunch lady? From a women's prison????? Reminds me of the old b-movie women's prison guards...the 'Brunhilda' types.

    Zee, you need to give them the smack down. I'd be out for someone's job....
  10. by   Zee_RN
    I have spoken to a number of people today. The manager of the cafeteria ("That's the rules"), the school principal ("well, maybe it could have been handled better, but it's not US, it's the Food Service Manager"), the food service manager ("well, now that the children have been publicly humiliated, I bet they won't forget their money again, will they?") I have a call out to the Superintendent of Schools and the President of the School Board. Without satisfaction today, all you Pittsburghers can look for my editorial in the Tribune Review and the Post-Gazette regarding the use of public humiliation and food deprivation as means of punishment in Norwin School District (Westmoreland County).

    I am so mad I could spit. The manager of the Food Svc Dept. kept repeating that it was my (the mother's) responsibility. I told her that yes certainly I took responsibility for my children not having enough money but I was not taking responsibility for the way it was handled. She did indeed say that now that they've been embarrassed, she's sure they won't do that again. She said "It's called Tough Love." AACCKK!!! I don't recall giving her permission to discipline my children or show them tough ANYTHING! States she, "One day without food won't starve them..." Well, no, I guess it won't but that's not her decision to make now is it? I thought dieticians were aware of the effect of blood sugar levels on learning.....
  11. by   spudflake
    I wish I lived in Pittsburgh so I could see your letter to the editor. I bet it will be a beaut See what happens when little people get a little power. Reminds me of a manager I had once.

    I'd ask the superintendent for a policy change. If a child runs low, or out of funds, a meal is given that day and a note is sent home to the parents re: lack of funds in the food bank.

    I am a very absent minded Mom. I'd put $25 in the food bank the first of every month...I still got letters sent home. My kids (especially my son) eat like it's their last meal. They'd never make it on Survivors. LOL My son is now 6'4", a string bean with size 14 feet. I hope he stops growing soon. Grandpa was 6'7" and my brother-in-law is 6'6". My husbands the shorty in the family at 6'. My mother-in-law is 6' and her sisters are taller than she is!!! I love family photos. All you get of me and my sister-in-law is the tops of our heads.

    Don't give up the fight. I'd try to see the superintendent in person!! Eye to eye Mano y Mommy
  12. by   Zee_RN
    Part of the problem is, spud, that they did send a note home when funds were running low...but my kids didn't give it to me. One daughter said she got two notes. Yes, they have been reprimanded for their irresponsibility. Yes, I should have been aware that it was time for these accounts to be running dry. was an oversight of both my children's and mine. But I don't care if they were $100 overdrawn-----they should NOT have been humiliated and sat there with no food----WHY DIDN'T A SINGLE ADULT suggest to these children to call home?!! My husband or I would have been up there in a flash, extremely apologetic ourselves that we had let it go and none of this would have occurred.
  13. by   carolinaRN
    Seems like some people are forgetting one important thing: Our children are very important to us as parents and a bad mistake was made--DON'T EVER MESS WITH OUR KIDS!!!!! They are young and they make mistakes. Even though they had forgotten to give you their notice, Zee, it doesn't excuse the fact that the cafeteria workers were indifferent to their situation. It was not the time to embarrass them, nor refuse money from your other child for lunch And most definitely not her responsibility to teach them a lesson. Isn't school supossed to be a nurturing loving place? A safe haven? I am sure your kids feel none of that. Seems like today, not one nice thing can be said about your children from anyone in the school. Heck, even your principal didn't have the nerve to take a stand. Isn't he there "for the children" and their well-being? Regardless of the policy, it most definitely should have been handled with more concern than contempt. See if you can find out who else may have been denied lunch before. If it were me (and no, my kids' teacher can only tell me bad things that they do so I am very negative about schools for the moment) I would rake them all over the coals. BTW, where was the teacher during all of this? Of all involved, I would have expected the teacher to make a stink about it. Good luck and keep us posted.
  14. by   CATHYW
    There is absolutely no excuse for the way that cashier acted to your children, and even less of an excuse for the manager telling you that they "will never forget again, now that they have been publicly humilitated!" What kind of weirdos are these people? On your list of folks to talk with, your school district/county should also have a district manager for Food Service at the Schools. This is probably who oversees the Caf. Manager at your daughters' school.
    My mother is a retired cafeteria manager from FL. In a milliion years. she would never have allowed such a thing to happen. You might have received a call from her, or the front office, but your child would have been fed! Unless your girls attend a private school, most schools receive Federal Commodities to stretch their food budget. Do I hear the words tax-paying parents here?
    As the mother of two grown kids (girl and boy), I made sure the folks at the school knew who I was, and that they were to call me any time, about anything. I had to volunteer a good bit (advisory committee, home room, carnival, chaperoned dances, etc.), but they knew who I was, as well as my husband. It is disgusting to think that the school has depersonalized things so much that a parent has to go out of their way to make sure they are called if something odd comes up, but we have to do what we have to do, as parents.
    Go get'em girl, and let us know what happens!