Earlier this month, Stacy Koltiska quit her job working in the Wylandville Elementary School cafeteria in Pennsylvania after having to repeatedly deny school children hot lunch because their parents were past-due on payments. Kolitska posted about the Canon-McMillan School District’s new bill collection policy on Facebook, and her message has since been shared more 7,000 times.
Passed over the summer, and announced to parents in August, the new policy calls for students owing more than $25 on their lunch accounts to be given a cold sandwich instead of hot meal. The rule affects children in kindergarten through sixth grade, while students in seventh through 12th grade do not receive replacement lunches at all.
Though the measure seems punitive and Draconian on the surface, critics claim that the system also takes advantage of students financially, continuing to charge them the full $2.05 price of a hot meal, while serving them cheaper, cold cheese sandwiches instead.
“The first week of school on Friday, I had to take a little first grade boys chicken and give him this ‘cheese sandwich,’” Kolitska writes in her Facebook post. “I will never forget the look on his face and then his eyes welled up with tears.”
According to Kolitska's post, the hot meals taken away from these students often end up in the trash. Still, Matthew Daniels, the school’s superintendent, told CBS Pittsburgh that the intent is not to single out children whose families cannot afford hot lunches.
“There has never been the intent with the adoption of this policy to shame or embarrass a child,” he said, adding that before the policy went into effect $60,000 to $100,000 was owed annually, while now that number has dropped to less than $20,000.
Kolitska also mentions in her Facebook post that a bus driver at nearby school district was personally paying overdue balances so the students could eat, but was fired after posting on about it on social media.
“I am only one voice but if we all come together and voice our outrage just maybe they will change this policy,” she wrote. “It’s as shameful as it is sinful.”