School cafeteria worker quits in lunch shaming

(AP Photo)
(AP Photo)

CANONSBURG, PA (WCMH/AP) — A public school cafeteria worker has quit over what she considers a “lunch shaming” policy in a Pennsylvania school district.

Stacy Kotiska says she quit last week after she had to take a hot lunch away from an elementary school student because the child’s parent had fallen more than $25 behind in paying for his school lunches.

“They get one slice of cheese between two cold pieces of bread, not even toasted,” Koltiska told WPXI-TV. “What am I supposed to do? Take their hot tray, remove the food, put down the cheese sandwich and throw it away? And the food director said, ‘Well, don’t let them see you throw it away.'”

The Canon-McMillan School District enacted the policy to deal with a backlog of about 300 parents who owed tens of thousands of dollars. Now fewer than 70 parents owe money, and the district says the policy isn’t meant to shame students.

The policy says students from kindergarten through sixth grade will lose their hot lunch and get a sandwich and fruit if their parents owe more than $25. Older students get no lunch at all if their parents owe that much.

The school later posted an explanation of the policy on it’s Facebook page.

“The purpose of Policy 808.1 is to resolve what has become a statewide issue at our local level. It is to address accountability for deficit lunch accounts accrued by families with the ability to pay for their child’s school meals,” the district’s post, in part, said.

Koltiska told WPXI-TV that just because it’s a state issue and other schools have adopted the policy, that doesn’t mean it is right.

“These people pass these laws and regulations, but we are the ones taking that food from that child, not you. You make your policies, but we have to enforce them,” Koltiska said.

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