An Indiana family is calling for the end of lunch shaming after they said their kindergarten student was a victim of the trend.
Dwight Howard told WISH is granddaughter, Anya Howard, 6, had to return a tray of hot food after her cafeteria account came up short of the $2.25 total on Friday. At the time, she had 10 cents according to a note sent home that same day.
The student told the television station she had to walk past about 20 students to get to the back of the line as some students commented on the financial woe. When she got there, she received a peanut butter and jelly sandwich instead.
But the elder Howard believes that what he called, the “cafeteria walk of shame” was not necessary and humiliated his granddaughter.
“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,” Howard told WISH.
School officials told the station that other students do get the alternate lunches when they do not have the funds to pay for the hot meal, and that there are payment reminders sent once accounts drop to $5.
“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,” Greenwood Community Schools Superintendent Dr. Kent DeKonnick told WISH.
DeKonnick said the Howard family has not contacted district officials and didn’t specifically speak about Anya’s case.
But a note attached to the balance slip Anya received said her school, Southwest Elementary, would not allow debts.
According to the letter, “Starting Monday, 5/13/2019 we are no longer allowing any Café accounts to go into the negative. If there is not enough money in your child’s account to cover the entire meal, they will be receiving a peanut butter sandwich and milk,” WISH reported.
Howard told WISH he wasn’t informed of his granddaughter’s account balance, or of the policy change prior to Friday’s incident.