A Texas school cafeteria denied a 12-year-old student lunch for being 50 cents in debt.
Matthew Williams was trying to buy a bag of chips and a drink from the James Bowie Middle School's cafeteria when they refused him, reports KIAH.
"She said 'I'm sorry, you don't have any more money,'" recalls Matthew. "And I said OK, 'Can I get anything else?' and she said 'No, I'm sorry.'"
The 12-year-old believes their decision was unfair. In the past, teachers and other friends whose accounts ran negative were still given lunch.
"I was hungry and my head hurted," said Matthew. "I felt kind of dizzy a little bit."
Upon hearing the news, his mother was outraged and complained.
"That upset me a lot," she said, adding just recently the cafeteria had let a teacher off the hook for having a negative account balance. "I was not happy about that."
Since then, Matthew's mother says the school's principal has reached out to apologize.
The incident still captured national attention and sparked debate.
"Ridiculous," commented one woman on WSYX ABC 6's Facebook post about the story. "Matters like this should be taken up with the school administrators and the parents, NOT the student. Lunch shaming them in front of their peers is bullying and isn't there some sort of no tolerance policy for that?"
"If you have the nerve to deny a child what may be their only meal in 8 or more hours YOU SHOULDN'T BE WORKING WITH CHILDREN," added another. "PERIOD."
Not everyone shared the same sentiments.
Some pointed fingers at the mother rather than the school.
"Let's hold parents accountable for things instead of shifting the blame where it doesn't belong," wrote one person on Reddit. "Missing lunch wont kill the kid. Negligent parents might."
"Since when, and why is this the schools fault?" asked a third. "WHY aren't the parents being questioned? There is NO excuse for the parents not seeing to it that there kids are fed. Try packing their lunch. That's what I did all through school. It's time the parents are put on notice that they are responsible for the health and well being of their kids, NOT the school!"
A few even defended the school cafeteria's decision.
"He has to learn about red ink and black ink sometime -- you don't want him to grow up like a democrat, thinking money grows on trees," commented one person on NewsChannel 8's Facebook shared post of the incident.
Sources: KIAH, WSYX ABC 6/Facebook, Reddit, NewsChannel8/Facebook / Featured Image: U.S. Department of Agriculture/Flickr / Embedded Images: DC Central Kitchen/Wikimedia Commons, Rex Pirie/Wikimedia Commons