Penn. Public School Cafeteria Worker Quits in ‘Lunch Shaming’

CANONSBURG, Pa. (AP) — A school cafeteria worker has quit over what she considers a “lunch shaming” policy in a Pennsylvania school district.

Stacy Koltiska resigned last week from Wylandville Elementary School in the Canon-McMillan School District after she had to take a hot lunch away from an elementary school student because the child’s parent had fallen more than $25 behind in paying for his school lunches.

“His eyes welled up with tears. I’ll never forget his name, the look on his face,” she said.

The Canon-McMillan School District enacted the policy this year to deal with a backlog of about 300 families who owed tens of thousands of dollars. Students from kindergarten through sixth grade will lose their hot lunch but be allowed to charge a cold sandwich, fruit and milk to their meal accounts if their parents owe more than $25. Older students get no lunch at all if their parents owe more than $25.

District Superintendent Matthew Daniels said the policy has cut down drastically on parents who don’t keep current on lunch accounts for their children, and isn’t meant to embarrass anyone. The policy doesn’t target those who qualify for financial assistance with school lunches, but is meant to make sure parents who have the ability to pay stay current.

“There has never been the intent with the adoption of this polity to shame or embarrass a child,” he said.

The 300-plus families who were in arrears before the policy was implemented owed the district between $60,000 to $100,000 annually. Now fewer than 70 families have unpaid lunch tabs totaling less than $20,000, Daniels said.

Koltiska understands the problem the district is trying to address, but argues the children shouldn’t be embarrassed or punished if the accounts fall into debt.

Another cafeteria worker noticed Koltiska was mistakenly giving the boy a hot chicken meal last week instead of the cold sandwich he was permitted under the policy. Koltiska said that because the cafeteria was so busy, she didn’t realize at the time that the boy wasn’t supposed to get the hot meal. That’s why she had to go to the boy and take the meal away.

“I’m not saying the parents shouldn’t be held accountable, but I think there has to be a better way than involving the children,” she said.

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(© Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments

One Comment

  1. denise says:

    SHAME ON THE SCHOOL WONDER HOW MANY LUNCHES THEY THROW AWAY

  2. cheryl singh says:

    The point is the worker had to take the lunch he was eating away , it shouldn’t matter what one he had gotten and I think those parents owing need to be called in for meeting, with the district to rectify how the parent will pay the bill. Maybe some work to be done if the bill can’t be paid. work on a easy type of budget program to those owing . Start fresh what s owed past keep separate from new start if they miss payment call them in ask why ? find out how you can help ? keep the kids out of this they are only kids. Get that sweet lunch lady back pronto !

  3. tricia says:

    I can understand giving him a cold sandwich when he is standing in line, but since they gave him a hot lunch they should not have gone and remove it form him after he walked away with it. Just remember the next day to make sure he get the cold lunch. There was no reason to embarrass him.

  4. Tony says:

    Interesting how our tax dollars can “easily” pay for a criminal to get 3 hot meals a day and a roof over their head but our same tax dollars can’t afford to keep children in public school fed? Amazing system we have here.

  5. Anna says:

    This happened to my daughter when she was in middle school. I paid 2.00 a day for her to get lunch. So 3 times, we were running late I would forget to give her the 2.00, but they would always give her lunch and the next day I would send her in with 4.00 to cover the previous day’s lunch and that day’s lunch. This one particular day they refused her lunch and TOLD her that “if I didn’t send her in with money, she couldn’t get lunch”. My daughter’s after school providers called me at work and told me that my daughter got off the bus and immediately vomited (dry heaves) from not having any food in school. I called the principal, left work and marched up to the school. I read him the riot act. How dare they refuse a child food? I always paid and I knew there were only 3 times I missed and made sure that I sent the money in the next day. I threatened to go to the media over it. From that day on I didn’t have to pay for a lunch for my daughter from 5th grade to 8th then all through high school.

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