Heroic Cafeteria Worker Shames School Back After ‘Lunch Shaming’ Poor Kids With Crap Food (VIDEO)
It’s shameful to lunch shame kids whose families are struggling financially
When Stacy Koltiska, a former cafeteria worker at Wylandville Elementary school had to take a hot lunch away from a young boy, she was understandably upset.
“His eyes welled up with tears,” she said. “I’ll never forget his name, the look on his face.”
After it happened a second time, she quit her job in protest just after the beginning of the new school year. She alleges the Canon McMillan School District is “lunch shaming,” students with a new policy that denies hot lunches to some.
Adopted by the school district, in Western Pennsylvania, over the summer, the policy states that for grades K-6, the hot lunch will be replaced by a sandwich if parents owe more than $25 to the district for lunches. Older kids will receive no lunch at all if the debt is $25.
Koltiska has worked in the school cafeteria for two years, but having to take away hot lunches from two children was simply too much.
No school child should go without lunch
According to The Guardian, if the money is owed, a letter is sent home to parents. An apparent backlog of about 300 families owed tens of thousands of dollars and that spurred the school district into action. Even if it is punishing the people who can least afford it.
After mistakenly giving the boy a hot chicken lunch and feeling ashamed for having to take it away, she wrote a post on Facebook to warn people in her community about the policy. Her words hit a nerve, and thus far it has been shared more than 7300 times.
When she had to take a second lunch away last week, Koltiska resigned.
“They messed with the wrong lunch lady,” she told The Guardian last week.
“I think it’s easy for these people that sit in these board meetings in suits to pass rules and policies,” she said. “It’s easy to make laws, but you’re not the one that has to look that little child in the eye.”
And the sandwich the school gives in exchange isn’t up to much, she alleges. It’s one piece of cheese on un-toasted bread and parents are still charged the same as a hot lunch. The returned hot lunch has to be thrown away, so it’s wasteful.
Koltiska, who has two kids in high school and one in elementary school worried that kids would tease others over the sandwich, since this indicates a lack of funds, and since some families may be struggling financially, but make too much money to afford a free or discounted school lunch.
“This might be the only meal these kids get,” she said. “You never know someone’s circumstance.”
And this was a personal issue for her
As a Christian, and as someone who came from an impoverished family, Koltiska felt she should speak up.
“I grew up poor,” she said. “I remember being on food stamps and just how embarrassed I was as a child even though there was nothing I could do about it — that shame and humiliation.”
Rather than penalizing students, Koltiska would like the school to go after parents who owe a balance.
“Kids have enough on their plates growing up in this world with all the peer pressure and bullying and everything else they have to deal with,” she noted. “I mean, honestly, we can’t feed them in school?”
School District Superintendent Matthew Daniels said the policy has cut down on parents whose children’s lunch accounts showed a balance. Previously over 300 families owed the district between $60,000 and $100,000 each year. With the new policy implemented, fewer than 70 families have unpaid lunch tabs — and they total less than $20,000, he said.
And apparently he lives in some sort of alternate universe, because he said the policy doesn’t target families in need of financial assistance.
“There has never been the intent with the adoption of this policy to shame or embarrass a child,” Daniels said.
Well for criminy’s sake, who else would it target?
Koltiska said she isn’t trying to turn the school district into the bad guy, despite her feelings about the lunch policy. She noted that her family moved into the district years ago so her kids could go to school there.
“The teachers, especially at the elementary school where I worked, were incredible. They’re very loving and kind to the children,” she said. “It’s just this one policy that I take issue.”
“Because of the heightened awareness of our policy, the board will look at whether there are other options to consider,” he said.
Uh, hello? Why didn’t they do this in the first place? There is no reason kids should go without lunch while they are in school.
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School officials said applications for free and reduced lunch plans are also on the upswing because of the new rules. They said they’ll review the lunch policy in October to see if anything should be changed.
Which sounds a lot like bureaucratese for “we’re just blowing smoke here.”
And that is very sad. When kids are trying to learn in school, the last thing they should have to do is go without something as crucial as lunch for growing young bodies.
Here’s what Koltiska had to say in the video below:
[brid video=”65807″ player=”5260″ title=”His Eyes Welled Up With Tears Penn School Cafeteria Worker Quits Over Lunch Shaming Policy”]
Screencap courtesy MiamiMediaHD/YouTube