A father in Washington state is outraged after a cafeteria worker at his son’s school reportedly denied the middle school student his lunch because he was 26 cents short.
Jimmie Keys claims that his son was reprimanded and denied a lunch in front of his peers last week and says that the school’s response to him being short 26 cents for a lunch that costs 40 cents in total was ridiculous.
"My first instinct was to get a huge jar of pennies, and get it ready," said Keys of his reaction to finding out that his son was denied lunch. "I was going to take it down to the school and throw it on 'em. He gets up to the front and they say there's not enough in his account, so they take his food, and in front of him, throw it away. To have it hit so close to home was very disappointing in the least," he said. "Somebody had to stand up for my kid and for everybody's kid."
Lunches at Mill Creek Middle School in Kent, Washington cost 40 cents, and the student only had 14 cents left in his account, so the cafeteria worker would not allow him to eat. The school is reportedly required to give any student that cannot pay for their lunch a substitute meal that usually consists of yogurt or cereal, but the cafeteria worker in this case did not. Additionally, KOMO News points out that parents are supposed to be notified when the meal account is short or is about to be short, but Keys says nobody ever informed him.
Now, the school is doing damage control, and school district spokesperson Chris Loftis says that they are truly sorry for what happened.
"I just have to say sorry to this student, sorry to the parents," said Loftis. "We made a mistake, we need to fix it, we're sorry. We forgot the humanity of it. We've learned from this, and the kindness of all of our workers is not going to be overwhelmed by the policies and procedures that we're required to follow.”
The school now says they are taking a look at their policies and plan to notify parents when the student’s account goes down to one dollar. Keys says that he is glad that the school apologized and that they are taking steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again.