Kindergartner 'lunch shamed' by school aides when she did not have enough money for a hot meal
Six-year-old Anya Howard had to return her hot tray of food at lunchtime when a cafeteria aide discovered her student account had just $0.10 in it
A kindergartner from Indiana was reportedly "lunch shamed" at her elementary school after she didn't have enough money to purchase a $2.25 hot meal.
When an aide at Southwest Elementary discovered on Friday, May 17, that the student account of Anya Howard, of Greenwood, was down to $0.10, they told her to return a hot tray of food, stated a Daily Mail report.
The six-year-old pupil was then reportedly "shamed" by a teacher, who ordered her to start at the back of the lunch line to wait for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
According to News8, Anya said several classmates laughed at her and made her feel "sad" after she had to walk past 20 students to reach the end of the line.
Her grandfather Dwight Howard spoke out against the "cafeteria walk of shame" and deemed it absolutely unnecessary for a child. He urged school district authorities to review their cafeteria policies in the wake of the incident. "When she was talking to me about it, she was more than sad. I mean, that's embarrassing for a little six-year-old," he said.
On Friday, May 17, the school sent Anya home with a note to her parents stating her student cafeteria credit had dipped way below the required funds.
Dwight, a former teacher himself, said it was a failure on the school's part because they failed to alert the family of her account status until it became an embarrassment. He highlighted that according to the school's policy, they are supposed to issue payment reminders as soon as an account balance hits $5.
"They waited until there was a dime left, denied her the opportunity to eat the lunch that she had [been served and tried to pay for] and then she had to go to the end of the line to wait for a PB&J," Dwight said.
Dr. Kent DeKoninck, the Greenwood Community Schools superintendent, said, "It is not an uncommon occurrence for multiple students to be served the alternate lunch on any given day."
"Any time this happens, our staff look to handle all of these as discreetly as possible... We do allow elementary students to charge two hot meals before receiving the alternate meal," he added.
However, the payment reminder notice sent with Anya, contrary to DeKoninck's remarks, stated the school would no longer allow students to charge any meals.
"Starting Monday 5/13/2019 we are no longer allowing any Café accounts to go into the negative. If there is not enough money in your child's account to cover the entire meal, they will be receiving a peanut butter sandwich and milk," the note said.
Nonetheless, the Howard family should have directly contacted administrators about the incident, DeKoninck added.