A number of parents at a Bedford, Kentucky, elementary school were outraged to learn that staff had thrown out a student’s hot lunch because her lunch account was past due.
The incident, which occurred at Bedford Elementary School on May 20, happened unexpectedly and in front of the girl’s classmates, WAVE News reported at the time.
“Someone came and took her lunch while she was sitting there with her friends and everybody else,” Leslie Chilton, the girl's aunt, told the news station. Chilton is also the PTO treasurer at the school.
After throwing the girl's meal in the trash, the school reportedly gave her a replacement meal: a cheee sandwich.
“An actual employee told me that afternoon because I was at school,” she added. “It was awful to think about her being there, sitting there and she was crying. She's a shy girl anyway, she's 10 years old and she's knows what's going on."
The unnamed girl’s family said they were shocked and upset by what occurred, adding that they had the money to pay the balance on the account but were never informed that there was an amount past due.
“There's no sense of treating any kid that way,” Doug Joyce, the girl’s grandfather, said. “If the schools can't figure out a better way of doing it than that, they don't need to be running the schools."
Joyce also said that he considers the incident a form of “bullying.”
“The other kids did notice,” Kim Wright, who also has a kid at the schoo, said. “Several parents have contacted me saying their kids came home upset because their friend's food was taken."
Wright subsequently started a petition to change the district’s policy on unpaid school lunch accounts. It garnered over 1,000 signatures.
A similar situation occurred in January 2014, when a Utah school took away 40 students’ lunches and tossed them in the trash because of past due accounts. The school was heavily criticized and ultimately released a statement defending their actions, saying that children are served lunch “before they get to the computer for payment.”