After her son was denied a school lunch because he had an unpaid balance of under five dollars on his account, a Michigan mother decided to pay for all the unpaid lunches at the school so that nobody would go hungry.
"It was really embarrassing. Especially in front of the whole lunchroom," said Dominic Gant, the student who was denied lunch.
Dowagiac School Principal Pieter Hoekstra said that no student should ever be denied lunch, and going forward, they want to make sure it doesn’t happen again. He did say, however, that notices are sent home to students who overdraw on their accounts.
"There's no reason why a student should ever go without lunch, even if they have overdrawn their account,” said Hoekstra. “They can seek out one of the adults in the lunchroom and ask for permission to charge for another day. We communicate regularly with parents. We send letters home on a regular basis and the directors of the lunch program have also made phone calls. It's the parent's responsibility to make sure there are funds in the account if they're not on free and reduced lunch.”
Grant’s mother said that she was horrified to learn that her son was denied lunch, so she decided that she had to do something about it.
"I was appalled that he was denied lunch and his lunch was taken out of his hands over $5," said Grant’s mother Amanda Keown. The mom says she contacted the school to complain, and they told her that even though his balance was small, they wouldn’t make any exception.
"She asked me where is the cutoff, where do you draw the line with the charges, when do you say no more? And I said there shouldn't be a line,” said Keown. That’s when she decided to buy lunches for all students who had balances. “I realize I didn't have to do that but I don't want another kid going through what my son went through.”
Hoekstra says that they are working to make the situation right and are encouraging parents to make sure the balances are paid.