Rather than tell a young child that he couldn't eat because his account was overcharged, this activist instead quit her job.
While it’s easy to conjure images of starving individuals in Africa, Haiti, and elsewhere, the reality is that in the United States of America, 16 million children (or 1 in 5) live in poverty and oftentimes don’t know where their next meal will come from.
This is a troubling concern, especially for those who work within the school system and come in contact with hungry children every day. It doesn’t help that many school districts – such as Canon-McMillan in Pennsylvania – have adopted rules that restrict kids from receiving food if their their families’ owe the school more than $25.
One individual who was deeply affected by this rule is Stacy Koltiska. When the former cafeteria worker was approached by an elementary boy with a tray full of food, she learned that his account was overcharged. At this point, she had two options: she could chuck the child’s tray and serve him (as mandated) two slices of white bread and cold slice of cheese or she could allow him to keep his food and quit. She chose the latter.
When The Washington Post interviewed Koltiska, she relayed that throwing away the boy’s food is against her ethics. She said:
“As a Christian, I have an issue with this. It’s sinful and shameful is what it is. God is love, and we should love one another and be kind. There’s enough wealth in this world that no child should go hungry, especially in school. To me, this is just wrong.”
The kind activist said she grew up poor and felt ashamed of relying on food stamps and free lunches, which is why she refused to throw the boy’s food away. She also believes the new policy is misguided, and pointed out that school administrators “are not the ones facing a child and looking them in the eye and taking their food away.”
The rule might not apply to those on reduced or free lunches, but it does impact enough children to bring attention to the issue. After all, this isn’t the first time a cafeteria worker has lost her job – or quit – because of strict school regulations. In Aurora, Colorado, Della Curry lost her job as an elementary kitchen manager after giving students free lunches. And last year, Darlene Bowden from Idaho was fired after providing a 12-year-old student with a free lunch. Reportedly, she was dismissed “due to her theft of school district property and inaccurate transactions when ordering, receiving and serving food.”
Certainly, a better solution to this conundrum can be presented than turning a child away because his or her account has been overcharged. Undoubtedly, greater change within the system is required, but should cafeteria workers be fired for trying to ensure kids at public schools have enough to eat? It’s a tough question; please comment your thoughts below!
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