Anya Howard is a six-year-old girl who loves to learn. She goes to school every day at the Southwest Elementary School with the intention to do her best and learn as much as she can. But in order to learn, little Anya needs to make sure she gets enough food to give her the energy her growing body and brain require – but one lunch lady made sure she didn’t get a place of hot food when little Anya’s lunch money balance came back negative.
On the day in question, Anya’s student account did not have the money to cover the price for her $2.25 hot lunch. When the lunch lady saw that her balance was low, she pulled the tray of food out of the little girl’s hand and denied her the meal because she did not have the money in her account to cover the cost of the food. Now, Anya’s grandfather, Dwight Howard, wants the school to take a closer look at their lunch money policy to make sure little girls like Anya do not go hungry because of a few dollars.
However, Anya’s story becomes even more heartbreaking. After the lunch lady took away her hot lunch, she forced the little girl to go in the back of the lunch line to pick up a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, which was the “free” lunch. But being treated the way she was put little Anya in a “sad” mood because the other children were laughing at her for having to get the PB&J sandwich for free since she didn’t have money in her account to afford the hot lunch.
While speaking to News8, Howard explained that it was humiliating and unnecessary to send his beautiful baby granddaughter through the “cafeteria walk of shame” by forcing her to forfeit her hot lunch and then go to the back of the line for her free meal.
He said, “When she was talking to me about it, she was more than ‘sad,’ I mean, that’s embarrassing for a little 6-year-old.”
The school sent Anya home with a note that told Howard that her lunch balance had dropped to just $.10. He said that he never received an alert that her balance had gotten so low.
“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,” he said.
Although Howard said he never received a notification, Dr. Kent DeKoninck, the Greenwood Community Schools superintendent, claims that parents and guardians are alerted when students’ lunch balances drop below five dollars.
He sent a statement to News8: “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.”
Do you think the school lunch-shamed this six-year-old girl?
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