A quarter and a nickel. Three dimes. Six nickels. Thirty pennies. All equal 30 cents. This is the pocket change that a school punished a six grade boy for not having by taking away his breakfast and trashing it. Sound heartless? That’s because it is.
Barber Middle School threw a boy’s breakfast in the trash because he didn’t have 30 cents to pay for it.
A 12-year-old boy was forced to sit in embarrassment at the breakfast table at Barber Middle School in Dickinson ISD when cafeteria workers took his food away and threw it in the garbage. Why? Because the boy’s account was short a measly 30 cents. As a result, the hungry child didn’t get to start the day with a meal in his belly.
Instead of allowing the child to finish his meal, school officials tossed it and made him call his mother to have her bring money to the school. But even after calling his mom, the school refused to let him eat until they got their money. Basically, this was a shake down. The boy’s mom, Jennifer Castilleja, described what happened and expressed disappointment that the school didn’t deal with the situation differently.
“My son called me and asked me if I could bring him some money because they took his breakfast from him and he needed money for breakfast,” Castilleja told KTRK.
“I said, ‘Well, I’m on my way, I’ll pay for it. And she said no, I would have to bring some money before he could have breakfast. There were kids all around him. I think he may have been a little embarrassed and upset and, of course, hungry. Telling the child, we are going to feed you, but go to the office and call your parent and let them know that you need money. Anything than sending them to class hungry.”
Here’s the video via Raw Story.
Schools deny meals to kids too often in this country.
Apparently, it’s school policy to take food away from hungry children and throw it in the trash as they watch if they are a few cents short. According to the school district, they don’t allow students to charge meals on their account and they warn students when their accounts are low in funds. But that certainly doesn’t excuse taking away a child’s breakfast and wasting food by throwing it in the garbage. And it really doesn’t excuse letting a child start the school day on an empty stomach.
Unfortunately, this kind of situation happens across the country. Earlier this year in April, a school in Massachusetts took lunches away from students who didn’t have money. The school later apologized, but because of conservative hatred of poor people, more schools are doing this with impunity, especially in red states.
Conservatives cheer whenever a school takes a meal away from a poor child.
In September, a New Jersey school denied a student a school lunch to punish the child’s parents for being poor. This incident drew praise from a former counselor who appeared on Fox News to support the callous policy. Even Rush Limbaugh has called for letting children starve at school if they cannot afford to pay for a meal.
Add in the fact that Republicans are waging ideological warfare against the school meal program and it becomes all too clear that this is all about punishing poor people and their children.
Taking meals from children hurts their performance in school.
Jennifer Castilleja’s son should have been allowed to eat his meal at school without being harassed by the very school personnel who are supposed to be responsible for his well-being. Bullying him in the cafeteria in front of other students over three lousy dimes is disgraceful. It’s also sad that school employees would waste perfectly good food by throwing it in the trash. The easy thing to do would have been to let the boy eat and then have him call his mother. It also would have been the compassionate thing to do. Studies consistently show that children who are hungry in class do not perform as well as those who have full bellies. By preventing this boy from eating, Barber Middle School knowingly put him at a disadvantage. That should be criminal.
Not all schools are so heartless.
Thankfully not all schools subscribe to this sort of cruelty. At the school I attended in my Missouri town, the policy is to make sure every child is fed even if they can’t pay that day. If a child cannot pay for a breakfast or a lunch, the cafeteria serves them a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. In short, the child who can’t pay may not get what’s on the menu, but they at least get something to eat. If every school would adopt this kind of policy, they would be much better places for children to learn.