"Lunch shaming" policy prompts cafeteria worker to quit

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A cafeteria worker in Pennsylvania recently resigned over what is deemed the "lunch shaming" policy newly instituted within the Canon-McMillan school district. Stacy Koltiska had to take back the hot lunches she'd given two students because their parents were behind on their meal payments. 

As Koltiska explained in a Facebook post she shared after quitting Thursday, she did not realize one first-grade boy had a balance on his account when she gave him a hot lunch during the first week of school. Koltiska had to take back his tray and give him a cheese sandwich instead, which she said is actually just "one piece of cheese on bread."

"I will never forget the look on his face and then his eyes welled up with tears," Koltiska wrote. 

The incident left her with a "sick feeling," she wrote, and when it happened a second time, she resigned.


According to Pittsburgh's local CBS news affiliate, the school district adopted a new policy over the summer that says K-6 students whose families owe over $25 for lunch will be given a sandwich instead of a hot meal, while students above the sixth grade will be given no lunch at all. 

As the Associated Press reported, the move is intended to recoup some of the "tens of thousands of dollars" owed by some 300 parents. Post-policy, the number of parents with outstanding meal payments has dropped to under 70. But still, Koltiska had to enforce the rule twice in the first two weeks of school at Wylandville Elementary.

According to Koltiska, students are still being charged for the hot meals the district withholds from them. On top of that, she wrote, the school throws out "so much food" each day. To keep the district from putting "profits over people," Koltiska encouraged readers to share her post, and to write school officials with complaints about the new lunch policy.  

The school district's superintendent was not immediately available for comment.

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Claire Lampen

Claire is a staff writer at Mic who covers women's issues and reproductive rights. She is based in New York and can be reached at claire@mic.com.

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