Kindergartner ‘lunch shamed,’ family calls for school policy change

6-year-old Anya Howard was instructed to return her tray of hot food after a cafeteria aide discovered she didn’t have enough money in her student account to pay for the $2.25 meal.

She was told to return to the back of the lunch line to wait for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich – at the same time, several classmates laughed at her and made her feel “sad.”

Anya’s grandfather, who said the granddaughter was “lunch shamed”, now urges district administrators to review their cafeteria policies.

Anya had to walk past approximately 20 students at Southwest Elementary School — including some who commented on her payment issues — to reach the back of the line, she said.

Her grandfather, Dwight Howard, 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 told WFLA.

“I mean, that’s embarrassing for a little 6-year-old.”

According to a note from the school dated Friday, Anya’s cafeteria credit had dipped to $0.10.

But the school hadn’t alerted Anya’s 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 said.

Declined to comment

Dr. Kent DeKoninck, the Greenwood Community Schools superintendent, emailed a statement to News 8:

“It is not an uncommon occurrence for multiple students to be served the alternate lunch on any given day. 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.”

He also said that the school had not been contacted directly by Anya Howard’s family and declined to comment on specifics of their complaints.

What do you think of this school’s policy and how Anya’s situation was handled? Have you ever run into anything like this with your own kids?

In my opinion, food at school should be free to all students, rich or pool. No student should have to worry about money to buy food at school!

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