A school cafeteria worker from Denver was fired for feeding hungry kids. The worker’s dismissal came when the district found out that the lunch lady had been secretly giving away the meals to a few of the children who had no funds in their lunch accounts and whose families were not listed as being enrolled in the federal free lunch program.
Writes CNN: “Della Curry, a cafeteria worker in an elementary school in a Denver suburb, has been fired for giving free food to students who didn’t qualify for the federal free lunch program. The mother of two admitted that she violated school policy by giving the free meals but said that she didn’t want to see the children go hungry.”
Curry, previously employed with the Dakota Valley Elementary School in Aurora under the Cherry Creek School District, said that some of the elementary students did not qualify for free or reduced lunch, yet still were sent to school with no money and no funds in their account. She said the children told her they had no money.
“I had a first grader in front of me, crying, because she doesn’t have enough money for lunch. Yes, I gave her lunch,” Curry said. “I’ll own that I broke the law. The law needs to be changed.”
At times, Curry gave other students a free lunch if they forgot their lunch money, and asked them to repay the following day. At other times, she even paid for the lunches out of her own pocket.
For these violations of school policy, including what is essentially a theft of federally funded food, she says she was fired.
The district, while not commenting directly on the firing of Curry, posted a statement to their website, writing in part:
Decisions regarding food service workers are made by the district Food and Nutrition Services department and not by a school’s principal…The law does not require the school district to provide a meal to children who have forgotten their lunch money – that is a district decision.
According to our practice, we provide hot meals to students the first three times they forget their lunch money and charge their parents’ accounts. The fourth time, we provide a cheese, or if available turkey, sandwich and milk. No child is ever allowed to go without lunch.
Adds CBS News: “To qualify for the free lunch program, a family of four would have to have a household income of around $31,000. To qualify for a reduced lunch, the threshold is below $45,000.”
Curry said some of the students she gave away lunches to did not qualify for either program.
“Kids whose parents make too much money to qualify, but a lot of times they don’t have enough money to eat,” she said.
In reply to the district’s statement, Curry said that a small sandwich is oftentimes not enough. Kids are left still hungry and she wants to see the district’s policy changed.
Technically, if you consider a slice of American cheese in a hamburger bun food, they give out food. ~Della Curry
“If me getting fired for it is one way that we can try to change this, I’ll take it in a heartbeat,” she said, adding that the school’s policy of giving out the cheese or turkey sandwich only applies to the elementary school.
Sound off below: Should this school worker have been fired for giving away free food to hungry kids?