6-Year-Old Forced To Return Hot Lunch At School Because She Didn’t Have $2.25 To Pay For It

Anya Howard was asked to return her hot tray of food after a cafeteria worker found out that the little girl didn’t have enough money.

Kindergartner Anya Howard was asked to return her hot tray of food when a cafeteria worker saw that she didn’t have enough money in her lunch account for the $2.25 meal. The 6-year-old was asked to go to the back of the line to wait for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich instead. According to WISH, she passed by about 20 students who made fun of her and made her feel “sad.” “They told me I needed to give my food back,” said Anya. Anya’s grandfather, Dwight Howard, told the station of the “cafeteria walk of shame”. “When she was talking to me about it, she was more than ‘sad.’ I mean, that’s embarrassing for a little 6-year-old.”

The Greenwood kindergartner’s cafeteria credit had gone down to $0.10, according to a note from the school dated Friday. Her grandfather said that the school did not notify the family about the status of her lunch account. Dwight feels that it was the school’s responsibility to let them know that the account hardly had any money to pay for the child’s hot meal.

If they had let them known they could have credited her lunch account and she wouldn’t have had to be embarrassed in front of her classmates after having her food taken away. “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 told WISH.

Parents are issued payment reminders when lunch accounts have $5 remaining, according to Dr. Kent DeKoninck, the Greenwood Community Schools superintendent. “It is not an uncommon occurrence for multiple students to be served the alternate lunch on any given day,” he said Monday in an emailed statement. “Any time this happens, our staff looks to handle all of these as discreetly as possible… We do allow elementary students to charge two hot meals before receiving the alternate meal.”

Greenwood Community Schools superintendent Kent DeKoninck told the Indianapolis Star that the district was suspending its policy of giving students cold sandwiches if their lunch accounts did not have sufficient funds to cover a hot meal. Greenwood’s cafeteria policy, the Indianapolis Star reports, calls for providing students an “alternate meal” if cafeteria funds go below the required minimum amount.

DeKoninck met with Anya’s family on Tuesday and told the outlet that they are all “on the same page.” “They have a better understanding of the events that actually happened and we’re in a good spot,” DeKoninck said. “We came to a real good understanding of the situation.”