Six-year-old made to do 'walk of shame' over not being able to pay for $2.25 lunch
A six-year-old girl has claimed she was shamed by a school worker when she didn't have enough money to pay for her lunch.
Anya Howard was allegedly told to return her tray of hot food by a cafeteria aid at Southwest Elementary school in Greenwood, Indiana, when she had just $0.10 in her account to pay for her $2.25 lunch.
The young student was then forced to do a "walk of shame" to the back of the lunch line to get a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in front of roughly 20 classmates while they "laughed".
Her grandfather Dwight Howard has expressed outrage over the incident, telling News 8 of his grandaughter's unnecessary humiliation.
He has blamed the school for not alerting the family to the fact that Anya's account balance was low despite payment reminders being school policy.
"'When she was talking to me about it, she was more than sad," he said. "I mean, that's embarrassing for a little six-year-old. 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."
When the six-year-old left school that day, she was given a note to say the balance on her account was low, reading: "Starting Monday 5/13/2019 we are no longer allowing any Café accounts to go into the negative. 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."
However, Dwight is urging district administrators to review their cafeteria policies to avoid similar incidents in the future.
The school has responded to the incident, claiming it was standard procedure for children to be offered a peanut butter and jelly sandwich if they did not have the funds to pay for lunch.
Dr Kent DeKoninck, Greenwood Community School's superintendent, stated: "It is not an uncommon occurrence for multiple students to be served the alternate lunch on any given day. 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."
The superintendent added that the Howard family had not contacted administrators directly. The school principal and the cafeteria worker involved have not commented publicly on the family’s complaint.