The Canon-McMillan school district in Pennsylvania does not allow students to have a hot meal if their families have a debt of more than $25, but that new policy caused lunchroom staffer Stacy Koltiska to quit last week (video below).
Koltiska was forced to trash a little boy's hot meal, and offer him some slices of white bread and cold slice of "government cheese" at Wylandville Elementary School in Eighty Four, Pennsylvania, notes The Washington Post.
"I'll never forget the little boy, I'll never forget his eyes welling up with tears," Koltiska told WTAE. "I didn't say anything, I just put the cheese sandwich on his tray, and that's when he just looked and his eyes welled up."
Koltiska said the boy brought money the next day, but that didn't erase her memory of the painful incident.
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"As a Christian, I have an issue with this," Koltiska told The Washington Post. "It’s sinful and shameful is what it is."
Koltiska said the boy's parents were still charged the full price of the hot meal, $2.05, that she was ordered to throw out.
"God is love, and we should love one another and be kind," Koltiska added. "There’s enough wealth in this world that no child should go hungry, especially in school. To me this is just wrong."
Canon-McMillan School District Superintendent Matthew Daniels told WTAE off camera: "There has never been the intent with the adoption of this policy to shame or embarrass a child."
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The law of unintended consequences is when people's actions, including those who work for the government, have unanticipated or unintended effects, notes the Library of Economics and Liberty.
According to Daniels, there was an excess of 300 families who had not paid an annual total between $60,000 and $100,000 for school lunches, but the new policy has cut that number to less than 70 who owe a total of $20,000.
Joe Zupancic, a member of the Canon-McMillan school board, told The Washington Post that the new policy was not aimed at students who meet the qualifications for meals at a reduced price or free lunches. However, it's not clear what those requirements are.
According to Zupancic, the school district set up payment plans for several families, but he admitted that some kids with debt could be from poor families who are not able to pay their balance.
"We knew it would be a difficult situation," Zupancic said. "No one wants to single out kids, least of all a school district."
"[The school administration are] suits at a board meeting," Koltiska countered. "They are not the ones facing a child and looking them in the eye and taking their food away."
According to Koltiska, she has gotten support from some inmates at a local jail who are offering to donate some of their meals to schoolchildren, as well as a nun who told the former lunchroom worker that Koltiska began a revolution "with a cheese sandwich."