Society

Lunch Lady Fired For Feeding Kids Who Couldn't Pay (Video)

| by Kit Bryer

A school lunch lady was fired from her job after feeding hungry children who didn't have money to pay (video below). 

Debbie Solsman worked at Denver Place Elementary School in Wilmington, Ohio, as the cafeteria's leading lunch lady for 14 years before the district fired her in February.

Children who don't have money on their lunch accounts at Denver Place Elementary are given a regular lunch for three days. After that, without payment, the school's policy is to replace the regular lunch with a less appetizing version consisting of a cheese sandwich, a fruit, a vegetable and milk. 

"A kid can't get through the day on a cheese sandwich," Danielle Davis, mother of a student at Denver Place Elementary, told WLWT.

Solsman began giving hungry children a full lunch instead, or extra items along with the free lunch, even when the children couldn't pay.

"There were children that got a free lunch that would come back and say, 'Miss Debbie, I'm still hungry,'" she told WCPO. "And you don't know how many times I heard they didn't have supper that night."

She added: "I sometimes would buy them an extra slice of pizza because I did feel them out, ask them what they had for supper the night before," she assured WXIX. "Sometimes they would tell me 'nothing.'"

Solsman says she would keep a stack of sticky notes with IOU's and pay for all the lunches out of her own pocket when her next check would arrive. 

This was against the district's rules, and Solsman was fired. District documents say the reason for termination was that Solsman was "not keeping track of her register and providing food to her grandchildren without payment."

"I broke the rule," Solsman told WCPO. "I'm the one that broke the rule, it's not the district, and I really want everybody to know that my 14 years that I was there, Wilmington City Schools were good to me."

"But in my heart," she added. "When that child tells me they're hungry, do I believe them or just say, 'No, you don't need any more today?' How do you determine the difference between that?"

When parents caught wind of Solsman's termination, they were unhappy with the district's decision and began to spread the word on social media. Solsman said she never meant for her firing to become so public. The buzz around Solsman has gotten the attention of several other schools, which have since reportedly offered her positions. 

The district released a statement saying that children at Denver Place Elementary are never denied a complete lunch. District Superintendent Ron Sexton told WLWT, "We care a great deal about our employees, we care a great deal about the students."

When asked if there was anything she would want to tell the students at Denver Place Elementary, Solsman told WXIX, "I miss them."

"I miss them," Solsman said as she began to cry. "I miss them terribly and I love them very much."

Sources: WLWT, WCPO, WXIX / Photo credit: WCPO/YouTube

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