Imagine serving students lunch in the cafeteria and handing a boy a hot piece of chicken, only to pull it away from him seconds later, replacing it with a cold piece of cheese on a single slice of bread.
That’s exactly what happened to Stacy Koltiska, a cafeteria worker at Canon McMillan School District just south of Pittsburgh.
“His eyes welled up with tears. I’ll never forget his name, the look on his face,” she said
It was at that heartbreaking moment in the lunch line that she was informed of the school’s latest policy that many have deemed “lunch shaming.”
“The woman I was working with was trying to get my attention, but I didn’t see ‘cause we’re serving so many kids, to tell me before I gave him the chicken to give him the cheese. But it was too late. He already had his tray,” said Stacy.
According to the policy, kids in grades K-6 who have overdue lunch balances of $25 or more would be given a cold cheese sandwich (with one slice of bread) in place of their warm meal; students in grades 7-12 would be refused lunch entirely.
Stacy spent two years serving as the lunch lady for Canon McMillan, but after being forced to take food away from a second student, she immediately quit her job. Upon her resignation, the former cafeteria worker wrote a powerful message to parents on Facebook in an effort to make others aware of the appalling policy in an attempt to effect change:
ATTENTION ALL PARENTS WHO HAVE CHILDREN IN THE CANON McMILLAN SCHOOL DISTRICT!!! I need to inform you about a new policy involving school lunches that You may Not be aware of. As most of you know, I worked at Wylandville Elementary School’s Cafeteria. Although it was hot and hard work, I love the joy and excitement the younger children got from something as simple as a school lunch. This year Canon Mac implemented a new Rule 808.1. This rule states that any child who has a balance of $25 or more will not receive a lunch if they are in Grades 7 through 12. State law requires that children K through 6 must be given a lunch. In Rule 808.1 it says that children in K through 6 will be provided a “Sandwich” what You don’t know is that they are being given One Piece of Cheese on Bread. This isn’t even being toasted. Yet they are still being charged the FULL PRICE of a HOT LUNCH that is being DENIED to them.
The first week of school on Friday, I had to take a little first grade boys chicken and give him this “cheese sandwich”. I will never forget the look on his face and then his eyes welled up with tears. I was going to resign on Monday but my mother passed away on Sunday so I forgot about it until yesterday when it happened again. I had the same sick feeling so today I resigned. What makes this even MORE SICKENING is that we throw so much food away EVERYDAY.
So Our Children are being served cheese, being charged and denied the hot food that we then throw away. Once again, it comes down to Profits Over People but this time the People are Our Children. If you are as outraged at this disgusting policy, please take a minute and e-mail Michael W. Daniels, Superintendent of Schools, Joni Mansmann, Director of Business and Finance. Jen Collins took my feelings and emotions and wrote an eloquent resignation letter that was sent to these people and others. She has a gift with the written word and said it much nicer than I could have. She also told me about a bus driver in another school district that heard kids were being denied lunch so he personally paid all the overdue accounts and then was Fired for posting on Facebook. I already resigned so please forward and spread the Word. I am only One Voice but if We all Come Together and Voice Our Outrage just maybe they will change this Policy. Probably not but its worth a shot. Thanks for Listening!!!
According to the district, parents were informed of the new policy via email prior to the start of the school year. Superintendent Michael Daniels said, “There has never been the intent with the adoption of this policy to shame or embarrass a child.”
He claims that prior to the new lunch policy, 300 families were in deficit, and now that number has been reduced to 66.
While Stacy agrees that the parents do need to be held responsible for making payment, she thinks that shaming and punishing the children is the wrong way to go about it. She doesn’t believe that the kids should be “humiliated and embarrassed” in the process.
“I’m not saying the parents shouldn’t be held accountable, but I think there has to be a better way than involving the children,” she stated.
Her post has since spread like wildfire across social media, as thousands of parents across the nation have rallied in support of her stance. We’re so proud of this woman for making such a bold sacrifice in order to stand up for the rights of children.
See more from Stacy in this CBS interview, and let us know what you think of her story in the comments below!