News 8

Little Girl Has Food Taken Away And Does 'Walk Of Shame' Over $2.25 Lunch Fee

A grandfather in Indiana is speaking out after he says his granddaughter was "lunch-shamed."

The incident is just one of many cases where elementary-aged children are being denied lunch or given substitute lunches because of unpaid debts on their accounts.

The issue of lunch debt in America is nothing new.

There have been a number of reports of students being denied lunch at school because of unpaid debts on their accounts.

This issue often impacts low-income families who rely on school meal programs to provide their children with a nutritious lunch.

Unsplash | Anton Murygin

In some cases where students with debt have been denied lunch, they are given a "substitute meal." These substitute meals are usually a cold lunch option like a sandwich.

The policy of providing substitute meals has lead to another issue in school cafeterias: lunch-shaming.

Unsplash | Anton Darius

Advocates and parents say children who are given a substitute meal are singled out and ridiculed by their peers.

One upset grandfather is speaking out after a six-year-old's lunch was taken away from her.

News 8

Dwight Howard says his granddaughter, Anya Howard, had to do a "walk of shame" when cafeteria workers discovered Anya only had 10 cents left in her lunch account.

Anya was forced to return her hot lunch, which cost $2.25, and get in the back of the line with another child.

Unsplash | twinsfisch

She said kids in line "laughed" at them as they made their way to the end of the line.

Anya and the other child were then supplied with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

The incident was upsetting for Anya and her grandfather.

"When she was talking to me about it, she was more than 'sad,'" Dwight said in an interview with News 8. "I mean, that's embarrassing for a little 6-year-old.”

Dwight also said that the school failed to issue any payment reminders to the family.

News 8

These reminders typically go out when an account goes below $5.

The school has responded and said that this situation was not uncommon and they try to be "discreet" when handling them.

News 8

They also issued a letter to parents stating that they would not allow any accounts to go into the negatives.

A letter was sent home to parents informing them of the alternate lunch policy.

Unsplash | Olia Nayda

The school confirmed that any children without sufficient funds would receive a peanut butter sandwich and milk for lunch.

Anya's story is not uncommon in schools across the country.

Unsplash | Jeremy Bishop

As schools try to tackle the issue of lunch debt, many are realizing the policy of serving children "alternate" lunches can be an issue as well.

According to one young advocate, these alternate lunches can be grounds for students to get bullied.

Twitter | @CAgovernor

Ten-year-old Ryan Kyote successfully campaigned to end the practice of serving students alternate lunches in California.

Similar to Anya's story, Ryan witnessed children who were served these alternate meals being "lunch-shamed."

The alternate meals signaled to others that these children had a debt on their account.

Ryan even met with California governor Gavin Newsom to discuss the issue.

Twitter | @CAgovernor

Thanks to Ryan, the state recently passed legislation that ended the practice of serving alternate meals to students with debt on their accounts.

It's unclear if other states will follow with their own legislation.

In the meantime, students like Anya run the risk of being lunch-shamed because of their debts.

Filed Under: