6-Year-Old Girl Forced To Do The ‘Walk Of Shame’ When She Was $2.25 Short For Lunch

We probably all are familiar with bullying in some way or another. For some of us, it was a classmate that just picked on us relentlessly on the schoolyard or in the classroom. For others, it could be an issue at work or even at home. There are no words to express how difficult this type of situation is but sometimes, it gets worse than others. In fact, there is a new problem that seems to be coming up on a regular basis and that has to do with ‘lunch shaming’.

When students get up to get their lunch at school, they don’t ever think that they are going to have a problem getting it. The problem is, some parents have gotten behind on paying their accounts and the students are being singled out and shamed as a result of it. Rather than giving them the benefit of the doubt and allowing them to have lunch, they often have to go to the back of the line and end up eating a more basic meal. One kindergartner who had to face the situation was Anya Howard.

She was only six years old but she was told that she had a put down the tray of hot foods. The cafeteria aide said the girl did not have enough funds to buy the $2.25 lunch.

Anya and another student were then told by the aide in front of about 20 other classmates that they had to get to the back of the lunch line. They would be waiting to get a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

“They were laughing at us,” Anya said about her classmates. They saw what was happening and they were making comments to her and another student.

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Anya was not sure how to respond and her grandfather is now speaking up for her about the problem of lunch shaming. He used to be a teacher and he demands that a review of cafeteria policies takes place by district administrators.

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

The district policy is to ensure that payment reminders go out if the account is below five dollars. Howard is a former teacher and he said the school had not notified the family that her account was down to $.10.

“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 said.

A district official indicated that this case was following standard procedure.

“It is not an uncommon occurrence for multiple students to be served the alternate lunch on any given day,” Kent DeKoninck, Greenwood Community Schools superintendent, said in an email sent to News 8.

“Any time this happens, our staff looks to handle all of these as discreetly as possible. … We do allow elementary students to charge two hot meals before receiving the alternate meal,” he said.

Howard saw things differently. He said that the situation should have been handled discreetly and he described the ‘cafeteria walk of shame’ as being humiliating and unnecessary.

Since this has happened, the district seems to have reversed its policy. They are no longer going to allow children to have a hot meal if the accounts are not paid.

“Starting Monday 5/13/2019 we are no longer allowing any Café accounts to go into the negative,” the note from Southwest Elementary School reads. “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.”

The Howard family did not contact the administrators directly. There has been no public comment from the school principal or the cafeteria worker.