A kindergartner's grandfather says she was 'lunch-shamed' over a cafeteria balance and forced to return her hot meal

  • The grandfather of an Indiana kindergartner says the 6-year-old was “lunch-shamed,” WISH-TV reported.
  • Dwight Howard said his granddaughter, Anya, was made to return her hot lunch last week because her account balance couldn’t cover the meal and was instead served a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich.
  • Howard said her family didn’t know her account balance was low, even though the school district’s policy says they should be notified.
  • Howard described the situation as “sad” and “embarrassing.”
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The grandfather of a 6-year-old kindergarten student in Greenwood, Indiana, says she was “lunch-shamed” and told she had to return her tray of food last week because her account balance couldn’t cover the meal, WISH-TV reported. Now, he wants the policy changed.

Dwight Howard said that on Friday, his granddaughter, Anya, was made to return her hot lunch because her account balance had only $US0.10, so she couldn’t pay for her $US2.25 meal.

Anya was told to walk past 20 other students to get to the back of the lunch line, Howard said. Anya told the news outlet that when she got there, she saw other students laughing at her.

She was offered a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich, Howard said.

“When she was talking to me about it, she was more than sad,” Howard told WISH. “I mean, that’s embarrassing for a little 6-year-old.”

He said he wants the school district to change its policy so other students won’t be told to go on what he called a “cafeteria walk of shame.”

Anya came home on Friday with a note saying her account balance was $US0.10, WISH reported. Howard said this was the first time the family was told about her account status.

Kent DeKoninck, the Greenwood Community Schools superintendent, told WISH that the district protocol is to tell a student’s family when an account balance is at $US5.


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According to the news outlet, a note given to Anya said that starting May 13, “if there is not enough money in your child’s account to cover the entire meal, they will be receiving a peanut butter sandwich and a milk.”

“It is not an uncommon occurrence for multiple students to be served the alternate lunch on any given day,” DeKoninck told WISH in a statement. “Any time this happens, our staff looks to handle all of these as discreetly as possible.”

But Howard said it was an unfair, ostracizing practice.

“They waited until there was a dime left, denied her the opportunity to eat the lunch that she had [been served and tried to pay for] and then she had to go to the end of the line to wait for a PB&J,” he told WISH.

The concept of “lunch-shaming” is not new. Earlier this month, a school district in Rhode Island made waves for serving students cold “sun butter and jelly” sandwiches if they owed money, a policy that some said could shame students whose families struggle financially. After a nationwide backlash, the policy was canceled.

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