• U.S.

Elementary School Cafeteria Worker Quits Over ‘Shameful’ New Lunch Policy

2 minute read

A cafeteria worker in Pennsylvania quit her job last week after her school district instituted a new policy of denying hot lunches to students with a negative balance on their lunch accounts.

Stacy Koltiska worked in the cafeteria at Wylandville Elementary School in Eighty Four, Pa., where she said she loved seeing “the joy and excitement the younger children got from something as simple as a school lunch.” But a new policy recently required her to take a hot lunch from a first-grade boy whose account balance was negative, swapping his chicken for a cold cheese sandwich.

“I will never forget the look on his face and then his eyes welled up with tears,” she said in a Facebook post.

The school district’s new policy restricts hot lunches for students whose parents owe more than $25 on their account. The rule requires students in kindergarten through sixth grade to lose their hot lunch and be charged for a cold sandwich, fruit and milk instead. Students in seventh through 12th grade won’t be allowed any lunch.

“As a Christian, I have an issue with this,” Koltiska said in an interview with the Washington Post. “It’s sinful and shameful is what it is.”

School officials told local news station WTAE that the policy was not intended to shame students and was implemented to cut down on the amount of money that parents owed the district. Superintendent Matthew Daniels said that while more than 300 families owed lunch money previously, that number has dropped to 70 families in the wake of the new policy.

But Koltiska said she disagreed with the district’s solution.

“They’re suits at a board meeting,” she told the Post. “They are not the ones facing a child and looking them in the eye and taking their food away.”

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Write to Katie Reilly at Katie.Reilly@time.com