A kitchen manager at a school in Colorado fired for feeding students who couldn’t afford to pay for their lunch said she’d do it all again if she had to.
Della Curry made headlines after she was fired from her job as kitchen manager at Dakota Valley Elementary School in Aurora, Colorado, for giving free lunch to a first grade girl who, through tears, explained one day that she didn’t have enough money to pay for her lunch.
“I had a first grader in front of me, crying, because she doesn’t have enough money for lunch,” Curry told reporters after the incident first occurred. “Yes, I gave her lunch.” According to Curry, the normal school policy was that if a student surpassed a debt limit for unpaid lunches, they would be given a hamburger bun with a slice of cheese on it and a glass of milk. That, she said, was unacceptable.
“I would have kids start crying when I told them they didn’t have money in their account because they were terrified of getting the cheese sandwich,” she said. She reiterated her disapproval of the policy in a Facebook post written after she was fired.
“I will never understand how the 'best' country in the world considers a cheese sandwich to be adequate nutrition for a child,” she wrote.
Curry’s story soon went viral, prompting her to speak out further about what she did and why, she said, she’d do it again.
“If you don't charge for the food it's considered theft,” she said on Good Morning America. “I understand that I won't be getting my job back because, until the policies change, I'd be breaking policy.”
Curry said she believes the school’s policy should change to better serve the best interests of the students and provide healthy, acceptable lunches for all students, regardless of whether or not they can afford it.
“The new policy that I believe 100 percent that I'm going to work for is that school lunch is part of a public education,” she said. “It is not a separate department like it is now. It should not be separately funded."
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