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Kids' Health Kids' Health

Have You Seen This? - Lunch Denied to Some Attleboro Students

Posted by on Apr. 5, 2013 at 9:35 PM
  • 16 Replies

http://www.thesunchronicle.com/news/local_news/lunch-denied-to-some-attleboro-students/article_1baa66c8-9c85-11e2-a9a0-0019bb2963f4.html

Posted: Thursday, April 4, 2013 2:30 am | Updated: 1:15 am, Fri Apr 5, 2013.

ATTLEBORO — As many as 25 students at Coelho Middle School were denied meals or told to throw their lunches away Tuesday because they could not pay or their pre-paid accounts did not contain enough money, school officials said today.

Parents said some of the children cried after they were not allowed to eat or had to toss out their lunches.

School officials said an on-site employee from Whitson’s, the school system’s school lunch provider, apparently gave the order not to extend meals to students who could not pay or whose credit was already overextended.

A Whitson’s spokeswoman apologized today for the incident.

Superintendent Pia Durkin said school officials were not informed of the policy and that the principal did not find out until late Tuesday afternoon.

Durkin said today that school administrators have since ordered cafeteria workers not to refuse any children lunch and have scheduled a meeting with Whitson’s officials.

Durkin also said she placed the on-site director employed by Whitson’s on administrative leave.

“There is no way any child in my school district will ever go hungry,” Durkin said. “Children need to eat.”

Durkin said a procedure that has been used in the past when students can not pay is to provide a cheese sandwich and milk until parents resolve their unpaid bills. She said that has apparently not been followed at Coelho.

Parents said they were told by their children that some pupils in the cafeteria line had already picked up their lunch and were told at the checkout they had to throw it away.

Victoria Greaves, 11, a fifth grader at Coelho, said a cashier told her to throw away her lunch because there was not enough money in her account. She said she threw her meal away and got nothing to eat.

Greaves said “about 20” other pupils also were denied meals.

Victoria’s father John, who met his daughter after school Wednesday, said he was incensed by the incident and that he did not receive a call from the school.

“I’m pissed that when there are people in prison who are getting meals, my daughter, an honor student, is going hungry,” he said. Had he known, he would have brought his daughter lunch money, John Greaves said.

Jen Ingemi, parent of a fifth grade boy, said the girl behind her son in line began crying when she was told to throw her lunch away. He said her son offered to share his lunch.

“This is absolutely outrageous,” said Ingemi.

School Principal Andrew Boles said he learned of the problem late Tuesday afternoon when contacted by a parent. Boles said he is “appalled and concerned” that Whitson’s did not inform him of the action in advance.

“They did not respect me, they did not respect my students and they did not respect their parents,” he said.

Boles said a cafeteria worker spoke to assistant Principal Susan Fortin about students receiving lunch on credit, but did not say students would be forced to throw away their meals.

However, one parent was told by his children that an announcement was made by the assistant principal while meals were being given out that if they could not pay, students would not receive a meal.

Holly Von Seggern, vice president for marketing and community relations for Whitson’s, said the company apologizes for the incident and promised a full investigation.

“We agree that this situation was not handled correctly,” Vonseggern said. “We really want to apologize to the parents of the children who were affected.”

Vonseggern said unpaid balances on students’ accounts are an increasing problem among school lunch providers, but that Attleboro students’ payments are “not out of control.”

Durkin said she was informed by the company’s management that the total amount of outstanding credit balances on all students’ accounts in the district comes to about $1,800.

Durkin said Whitson’s management employees are in the school district today and that she expects to meet Friday with company President John Whitcomb.

by on Apr. 5, 2013 at 9:35 PM
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Replies (1-10):
TigerofMu
by Sonja on Apr. 5, 2013 at 9:36 PM

Here's another one:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2304038/Students-denied-lunch-Massachusetts-middle-school-hadnt-paid-bills.html?ito=feeds-newsxml



Parents outraged after 25 middle school students were refused lunch at the cafeteria because they hadn't paid their bills

By Daily Mail Reporter

|


Students were left hungry and in tears when cafeteria workers at a Massachusetts middle school refused to serve them because they did not have enough money to pay for their meals.

Up to 25 middle schoolers were not served or had their meals taken away from them when the cafeteria workers realized that they or their pre-paid accounts did not have enough money.

The catering company who provides the meals to Coelho Middle School in Attleboro, Massachusetts say that it was a mistake made by the on-site supervisor who has now been put on administrative leave.

Outrage: Up to 25 students at Coelho Middle School in Attleboro, Massachusetts were denied lunch on Tuesday because their parents had not paid their cafeteria accounts

Outrage: Up to 25 students at Coelho Middle School in Attleboro, Massachusetts were denied lunch on Tuesday because their parents had not paid their cafeteria accounts

Many parents and school officials did not learn about the Tuesday incident until the children got home that afternoon.

'There is no way any child in my school district will ever go hungry. Children need to eat,' superintendent Pia Durkin told The Sun Chronicle.

Mistake: Superintendent Pia Durkin said that protocol requires that students who can't pay are given a cheese sandwich and milk

Mistake: Superintendent Pia Durkin said that protocol requires that students who can't pay are given a cheese sandwich and milk

She said that the standard procedure when students' accounts have insufficient funds to pay for their lunch, the school supplies them with a cheese sandwich and milk until the bill is settled with the children's parents.

That was overlooked on Tuesday, however, as an unidentified representative from Whitson's, the school lunch provider, reportedly told the cafeteria workers to not serve any students who did not have money.

In some cases, like that of fifth grader Victoria Greaves, students had already been served but then had their meals taken away from them at the register.

Victoria's father John Creaves met his 11-year-old daughter at the end of school, and she told him how she cried when the cashier made her throw away her meal, leaving her with nothing to eat.

'I’m pissed that when there are people in prison who are getting meals, my daughter, an honor student, is going hungry,' he told The Sun Chronicle.

 

One student inside the cafeteria told their parent that it wasn't only the cafeteria workers who were stopping the children from eating, but also the school's assistant principal Susan Fortin.

Rejected: Some children had already been served their lunches but had to throw them away at the cashier

Rejected: Some children had already been served their lunches but had to throw them away at the cashier

The student said that Ms Fortin approved the plan put forth by the Whitson's workers, though the school officials deny the child's claims.

'We agree that this situation was not handled correctly,' said Holly Von Seggem, the vice president for marketing and community relations for Whitson’s.

'We really want to apologize to the parents of the children who were affected.'

PrincessZ20
by on Apr. 5, 2013 at 11:43 PM
3 moms liked this

That's so sad.  That meal might be the only "good" meal some of those kids get in any given day.  Not to mention, how do you expect a hungry kid to focus on their work in the afternoon? 


HairClipQueen
by Member on Apr. 6, 2013 at 7:25 AM
1 mom liked this

 This article makes me want to shake my computer screen.  Are you serious this is how ADULTS treat children ?! Iam not sure how it works in America about those accounts past due, but here (Quebec, Canada), we send the money or ask the principle for a credit and make payment arrangements.. I have sent my girls money for their lunches and the cafeteria lady always gives the girls more than what i actually paid for ie; rice cripsy treat .. never in my life have i heard of taking food AWAY from children.  Boy oh Boy -- All I have to say is Thank GOD this wasnt my children, i roar for my girls!!

TigerofMu
by Sonja on Apr. 6, 2013 at 9:27 AM
I was angry when I read this article. I don't know how any school could let this happen, but the schools where I have attended and worked have been like your description, they sent notices home or called, and payments or arrangements were made. There is a free lunch program, and I like the whole cheese sandwich idea because then the kids are at least eating, but to take their lunch away after they'd already served it is inexcusable. It's embarassing and demeaning and just wrong, and how is that keeping your accounts balanced? They should have just chalked it up to their own error, and dealt with the accounts afterward.
Quoting HairClipQueen:

 This article makes me want to shake my computer screen.  Are you serious this is how ADULTS treat children ?! Iam not sure how it works in America about those accounts past due, but here (Quebec, Canada), we send the money or ask the principle for a credit and make payment arrangements.. I have sent my girls money for their lunches and the cafeteria lady always gives the girls more than what i actually paid for ie; rice cripsy treat .. never in my life have i heard of taking food AWAY from children.  Boy oh Boy -- All I have to say is Thank GOD this wasnt my children, i roar for my girls!!

TigerofMu
by Sonja on Apr. 6, 2013 at 9:34 AM
1 mom liked this

That's true.  I was so glad when both the schools I taught at started breakfast programs.  The breakfast didn't cost anything (federal subsidy), and it meant every child was coming to school with a full tummy and ready to learn! It also meant that I didn't have to stock my classroom with food for the kids who came to school hungry anymore!

Quoting PrincessZ20:

That's so sad.  That meal might be the only "good" meal some of those kids get in any given day.  Not to mention, how do you expect a hungry kid to focus on their work in the afternoon? 



TerriC
by on Apr. 6, 2013 at 10:27 AM
1 mom liked this

I would be SO livid!

TigerofMu
by Sonja on Apr. 6, 2013 at 10:30 AM
1 mom liked this

Me too!

Quoting TerriC:

I would be SO livid!


nikki4eva88
by on Apr. 7, 2013 at 8:44 AM
1 mom liked this
I'm not so sure what to think. While I agree that no child should be left hungry, if there is a lunch account PAST DUE, is that really the schools fault? The parents should be on top of these things.
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new_mom808
by Andrea on Apr. 7, 2013 at 11:41 AM

 I understand that this isnt the schools policy but the lunch provider. I wonder if the school has the authority to not renew the contract and find a differetn cafeteria service. What a horrible policy. If I were in that lunch room, I'm not sure I could have followed the order. ESPECIALLY the "throw it away" part. That makes no sense at all.

TigerofMu
by Sonja on Apr. 7, 2013 at 1:28 PM
I've never heard of a school having an outside lunch provider! Is that something that is common out east? The schools that I have worked at in Wyoming and Colorado have had their own cafeteria managers and facilities, though some of the schools are better equipped and provide meals for some of the older, smaller schools in this district.
Quoting new_mom808:

 I understand that this isnt the schools policy but the lunch provider. I wonder if the school has the authority to not renew the contract and find a differetn cafeteria service. What a horrible policy. If I were in that lunch room, I'm not sure I could have followed the order. ESPECIALLY the "throw it away" part. That makes no sense at all.

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