A California elementary school allegedly refused to give two students their full lunches on Oct. 25 due to an unpaid bill.
Vanessa Torres claims Taft Elementary in Orange, California, refused to give her children their main meals, KABC reports.
Instead, they gave her 9-year-old and 11-year-old sons milk, vegetables, fruit and notes revealing a combined unpaid balance of $24.40.
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"The lunch lady took away our food because she said we had to pay for it," Torres' 11-year-old son reportedly told her after she picked him up.
"It's absurd," Torres later said. "I mean, how can you do that? That could have easily been your child, your grandchild, your niece, your nephew."
"You don't do that to a child," she added.
The children only recently transferred to the district after attending a school elsewhere where they got free lunches. Consequently, Torres says she was unaware she had to pay.
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Torres, who went viral writing about the incident on social media, believes the school should have handled the situation differently. She thinks the school should have contacted her first.
"I could have gone out of work, taken something to eat to my kids or even paid off the balance then," the mother said.
Instead, when Torres called the school, the person on the phone simply stated the employee had abided by school policy.
"I called the school to let them know what happen and they said oh yeah once a kid owes $12 they don't provide them with lunch but they can get a fruit or a vegetable," she wrote on Facebook.
"How the h*ll do they expect kids to learn at school when they go to class hungry," the mother added.
Orange Unified School District has since apologized for what it called a "mistake."
"Nutrition Services staff apologized to the parent as soon as they became aware of the situation," the school district said. "The employee who was working the lunch line has been provided training to make sure that this doesn't happen again. It is not our policy to ever deny a child lunch, even if their account is temporarily outstanding."
Torres says she hopes they keep their world because "no child should ever be left without eating anything at school."