Students Denied Lunch; Coelho Middle School Students Cried While Returning Uneaten Lunches

By iScienceTimes Staff on April 5, 2013 11:06 AM EDT

Students Denied Lunch
Students at a middle school in Massachusetts were denied lunch because they couldn't pay. (Photo: Reuters)

Students denied lunch at a Massachusetts school were told it was because their parents hadn't updated their meal accounts. Nearly 25 students at Coelho Middle School in Attleboro were denied lunch because they either had no lunch money or their pre-paid accounts had an insufficient balance. The on-site director for the company, Whitsons Culinary Group of Islandia, N.Y., was placed on administrative leave by Superintendent Pia Durkin, who has also scheduled a meeting with company officials and ordered cafeteria workers not to deny any child food.

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

Some of the students denied lunch spoke out against the decision. Victoria Greaves, 11, a fifth grader at Coelho, told the Sun Chronicle 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.

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.

Whitsons has officially apologized to the students denied lunch, as well as parents and school officials outraged by the snafu.

"We agree that this situation was not handled correctly," Holly Von Seggern, Vice President for Marketing and Community Relations, told The Sun Chronicle. "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.

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