26 cents short, cafeteria worker dumps student’s lunch in trash

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KENT, Wash. — With only 14 cents on his school lunch account, one middle school student was humiliated after a cafeteria cashier dumped his lunch tray in the trash.

School lunches cost 40 cents. The boy was 26 cents short when he watched his food get thrown in the garbage.

School district spokesperson Chris Loftis said the incident was a terrible mistake.

“I just have to say sorry to this student, sorry to the parents,” he said in an interview with KOMO. “We made a mistake, we need to fix it, we’re sorry.”

Loftis said the cafeteria cashier made more than one mistake. The student should have been given a free substitute like yogurt or cereal, but wasn’t.

According to KOMO, the cafeteria worker did not intend to be mean. He or she simply took the district’s end-of-year-policy to get parents to pay outstanding meal account debts too far.

“We forgot the humanity of it,” Loftis explained. “We’ve learned from this.”

The district is expected to change its policies, informing parents when meal accounts are down to $1 so more money can be added to avoid situations like this in the future.

Read much more from KOMO.


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  • DC

    I’ve been in line at the grocery store and an older gentleman was digging through his change trying to come up with less than $2. I paid it, so why couldn’t this worker come up with .26 cents?

    • Elizabeth Harding

      Ditto, and when you are in line behind the person, (for those of you who are so judgmental about welfare use) you get to see what the person is buying. My case, I was watching a lady with 2 small kids try to buy a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter. She just looked lost when she didn’t have enough. I just paid the diff.

      • Ben

        I saw a pregnant lady with a small child buying groceries using her WIC and food stamps. I couldn’t help but ask her why she was having another child when she couldn’t even afford to feed the one she has. She didn’t like the question but I thought it was very legitimate. People: If you cannot afford to feed and clothe the children you have, don’t have anymore!

  • Sandy

    We have that happen here in California, MO. see it myself. The woman who run the computer at the time noticed that a student who already went through the line and was sitting down eating the lunch. She checked the computer and seen his account was a little in the negative. She got up went over took the tray from the student and in a loud voice said “Your account is in the neg all you get is a peanut butter sandwich” She then dumped the tray full of food in the trash can and went on her self righteous way.

  • YvetteCollins

    Doesn’t matter how much the child was in the hole!, how can you NOT feed a child who is hungry? Instead of giving the child his/her food she wastes the food dumping it? Good going….making the Missouri school system look like a joke!

  • JenLamb35

    I thought Michelle Obama had school lunches all figured out and everything was PEFECT??? They can give out free cell phones, food stamps and welfare to many underdeserving people but they can’t allow a child to eat a 40 cent meal????? Even if the child had nothing in the account – how is it HIS/HER responsiblity to get the parents to pay???

  • Terry57

    My mother worked in the cafeteria at a grade school for many years. If any child could not pay for their lunch, she would pay for it herself, or get the other kids to chip in something from their lunch (most kids waste a lot of food anyways) to make up a substitute lunch for them.

  • Patti Drury

    What is wrong with our country when people would prefer to throw good food away rather then give it to a hungry child? The government is making it harder to help those that really need it and the ones they are hurting (children and the homeless) are the ones who can’t VOTE. Getting tired of the political bulls*t we need to get back to being human beings again.

  • Andy

    School lunches should be free. We can afford to give criminals three squares a day, but for some reason we can’t afford to feed hungry kids. Did you all hear that the military is going to two a day meals for budget cuts. We live in a very sad world.

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