High School Superintendent Speaks Out After Cafeteria Worker Allegedly Denies Student Lunch Over Unpaid Balances

| by Jonathan Constante
student holding tray in school cafeteriastudent holding tray in school cafeteria

A high school student in Kentucky took to Facebook to slam a cafeteria worker who denied a student lunch because they didn’t have enough money.

Alex Melton, 16, is a junior at Henry County High School in New Castle, Kentucky. She got the attention of Henry County Schools Superintendent Tim Abrams with a Dec. 9 Facebook post, WDRB reported.

Melton wrote:

“If I see Henry County High School take ONE more kids food from them because 'they don't have enough money', I'm going to flip!! Do you know if they eat at home? School lunch/breakfast may be the ONLY meal(s) they get all day!!

"Do you know if their family is having financial issues? Their family may have a financial issue to where they can't afford school lunch right now, or food for their own home so they're depending on school lunch, whether their account is negative or not!!

"Think before you take an action, and think of the possible things those kids are going through!! Not only is it NOT OKAY, but it isn't like the school is really losing that much money, for a $3 meal.

"It isn't right to make a kid starve, much less embarrass them in front of the whole lunch room when you yank their tray right out of their hands!! What is this world coming to? Lord have Mercy!!”

The Facebook post was shared more than 350 times by Dec. 14. She provided more details about the incident to the news station.

“[The cafeteria worker] told the students that if they didn’t have enough money to cover their fines, then they didn’t need to be in the line,” Melton told WDRB. “She told them that they couldn’t eat, and that they needed to put their food down. [A student] was really upset about it, and she sat her food down and she walked away, embarrassed.”

Abrams said that it is unclear if any student was actually denied lunch by a cafeteria worker, but added that it will not happen again.

“In this case, I think we had an employee make a very poor decision and make a kid feel uncomfortable when they were going through the line,” Abrams said. “And that’s unacceptable.”

Abrams said the school has an issue with unpaid lunches, adding up to a total of $6,200 for the entire district. He added that they’ve tried emailing, sending out letters. and even calling parents to collect the money to no avail.

Half of the students in the district receive free or reduced lunch, but Abrams believes “pride” prevents some parents from applying to the program. He added that he is against “alternative” lunch, which would give students with an unpaid balance their own food options.

“Some school districts have implemented alternative meals for students," he said. "I never want a student to feel that they're receiving a lesser lunch because of their financial situation."

He added that he hopes to tackle the issue of unpaid lunches with parents after the holiday season.

“We’re not going to deny a kid food," he said. "We’re gonna work with those parents and figure out a way to do this.”

Sources: WDRB, Alex Melton/Facebook / Photo Credit: WDRB, Alex Melton/Facebook