Child denied lunch over 30 cents - WSMV Channel 4

Child denied lunch over 30 cents

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MOUNT JULIET, TN (WSMV) -

A parent said her son went hungry because he didn't have enough lunch money.

"You don't ever want anybody to harm your child and I felt like they harmed him by not feeding him yesterday," Jennifer Jones said.

Jones said cafeteria workers at Mount Juliet Middle School took her 12-year-old son's lunch away because his account was 30 cents short.

"They took the tray away from him and said, 'You can go find 30 cents if you want to eat your lunch,'" Jones said.

When Nathan, a sixth grader, didn't show back up with the change, they threw that uneaten lunch in the trash.

"You would rather throw it in the trash can than give it to a kid that needs to eat?" Jones asked.

Wilson County school officials said they have a "no charge policy" meaning, if a student can't afford their lunch, they throw it away and offer them a free alternative meal. 

"Why can't you have an account for lunch that, if you owe a dollar, they'll hold your grades until you pay the dollar, I don't understand that," Jones said.

School officials told Channel 4 in this case, "The cashier told Nathan that he could either borrow from a friend or he could get a sandwich and milk. He left the line and did not return. The cashier assumed he was going to borrow from a friend and even looked into the seating area to see if she could see him. He was no longer there."

"My son came home and did not have a bite to eat all day. I asked my son 'Did they offer you a peanut butter sandwich?' No they did not," Jones said.

Though the policies vary slightly, Davidson, Rutherford and Sumner counties all allow students to charge.

Jones said Wilson County needs to follow suit.

"All I kept hearing was, 'It's policy. It's policy,' and to me, when it comes to a child being able to eat or not, sometimes policies have to be broken," Jones said.

Mount Juliet officials told Channel 4 they tried a charging policy at two middle schools, and within twenty days, there were $5,000 in unpaid charges.

Schools are required by law to throw away a lunch once a student has touched it. The lunch can't be taken back and served to another student.

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