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Boy Denied School Lunch On His Birthday Because Of $9 Lunch Debt

One family has spoken out after a nine-year-old boy had his lunch taken away from school officials over an unpaid lunch debt. To make matters worse, the incident happened on his birthday.

School lunch debt has become a major focus for parents who have children enrolled in school lunch programs.

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Many of these children rely on these programs to provide a nutritious meal.

Some parents have even been threatened into having their children taken away over unpaid lunch debts.

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Parents in one Pennsylvania school district were told their children would be placed in foster care if their lunch debts weren't paid.

One CEO even offered to pay off the lunch debts of children in his town, but his offer was turned down.

The issue has been growing across the nation as more stories like these come out.

For some students who have an outstanding debt on their accounts, their school district denies them a regular lunch.

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Instead, the school provides a lower quality substitute to these children.

That's exactly what happened to one nine-year-old from Summit County, Ohio.

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Jefferson Sharpnack ordered cheesy breadsticks and sauce from his school cafeteria on August 30, which also happened to be his birthday.

As he sat down to eat his lunch, a staff member reportedly removed his food "without a word".

Jefferson was instead given cheese and a slice of bread to eat for lunch.

Jefferson was understandably confused, and the situation put a damper on his birthday.

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"He gets off the bus and he says, Grandma! Worst birthday ever!" said Diane Bailey, Jefferson's grandmother who currently has temporary custody of him.

According to Jefferson's grandmother, she enrolled Jefferson and his siblings in the school's free and reduced lunch program.

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She said officials told her she could write a check for any unpaid balances until their application was completed.

The situation was upsetting for Jefferson and his grandmother.

“He was bullied. He was bullied by the school officials. He had his lunch removed from his tray at the age of 9,” she said.

She also pointed out that the food Jefferson ordered would just go to waste.

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"You can’t re-serve it. You’re going to throw it away and not feed the child? That doesn’t make sense to me," she said.

Since hearing of the situation the school district has released a statement.

They quickly made a change to their policy that would allow all students to receive their standard lunch, regardless of their account balance.

The school's superintendent responded as well.

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"We are sensitive to the financial hardship families incur and challenges presented due to the cost of school breakfast and lunches," said Superintendent Jeff Miller.

The school also responded to the situation

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"As it relates specifically to our policy, students receive multiple means of communication when their accounts become negative. Currently students who are $15 or more in debt are provided a lunch that includes fruit, vegetables, and either a cheese quesadilla or cheese sandwich,” they said.

Jefferson's grandmother was pleased with the district's quick response and policy change.

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It's still unfortunate that Jefferson had to go through this.

And even though his birthday didn't have a great start, Jefferson was still able to celebrate.

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He was treated to dinner at his favorite restaurant and cupcakes.