Florida continues to secure its ranking as the worst after a high school student was denied school lunch because she was short 15 cents.
The girl’s mother, Kimberly Aiken, is furious at what happened to her daughter and wants to make sure other children don’t wind up going hungry too.
Aiken told Click Orlando that the incident happened on her daughter’s first day at school at University High School in Orange City, Fla.
“She puts her food on the tray, gets to the front, gives her number to the cashier, and she says, ‘Well, you owe 15 cents,’” she said. “My daughter said she didn’t have any money, so the cashier took her food.”
To make matters worse? Not only did the worker allegedly take away the food from the hungry teen, the employee completely tossed it out, wasting a perfectly good meal. Aiken’s daughter went the rest of the day without anything to eat.
“That’s the big thing—it’s eat breakfast, lunch, so that they can make sure that they’re doing good on their work,” Aiken said. “But then you starve my child?”
“You want to make sure that your kids are coming to school, and they’re going to be taken care of,” she added. “We already have all of the scary things happening, but the one thing you don’t want them to worry about is are they going to be able to eat when they go to lunch.”
The mother said she has signed up for the free and reduced-cost lunch program, but it has not kicked in yet. The 15-cent deficit on the account, she believes, was likely carried over from last year.
According to Roger Edgcomb, a spokesperson for Volusia County Public Schools, “The school is always willing to work with students and families as needed ... The school will be contacting the family directly to help resolve this issue,” which of course sounds like a lot of covering-your-ass, but here we are.
All jokes about Florida aside, deficits on school lunch accounts and what that means for students—who may not even know that their money is short—is a serious issue across the country. However, it is absurd to me that a school administration would allow a child to go hungry rather than try to work with parents to resolve any debts or misunderstandings or miscommunications.
As for Aiken’s daughter, she took a quarter to school the following day to make up for her shortage but was told that everything was taken care of, and that she no longer owed anything.