Cafeteria Worker Fired For Giving Food To Hungry Children

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She may have gotten fired, but she doesn’t feel bad about it.  In fact, one woman hopes losing her job will bring light to an important topic– feeding our nation’s hungry children. Here’s why one cafeteria worker was fired for giving food to hungry children.

1. She just couldn’t see a kid go hungry.

Della Curry, the former kitchen manager at Dakota Valley Elementary School in Aurora, Colorado, has been fired for giving free food to students who didn’t qualify for the federal free lunch program.

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2. She wants to make a change

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3. “I gave her lunch.

“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 told the station. “I’ll own that I broke the law. The law needs to be changed.”

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4. How to feed hungry kids

Curry said that many students’ families can’t afford to send them lunch even if they don’t qualify for the free or reduced cost lunch program. She said sometimes students simply forget their lunch money and noted that on occasion she even went into her own pocket to pay for lunches.

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5. No comment

Cherry Creek School District, where she had been employed, refused to comment to the station about her case, saying it was a personnel matter.  But after the report aired, the district posted a statement on the district website about the policy without mentioning her by name. It said that students are given free lunches the first three times they forget their lunch money and after that they are given a cheese or if available turkey sandwich, along with a milk. fired3


6. Cheese sandwich and milk isn’t enough

“No child is ever allowed to go without lunch,” said the district’s statement.  But Curry said that meal is not enough and leaves kids still hungry.  The district said the cost of the district’s lunch program are not covered by the prices charged.

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7. Bringing change by getting fired

Curry hopes to speak to the Board of Education about her case and about changing the policy.  “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.

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8. Families can’t qualify

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 says the students she helped 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.

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9. Parents are pleased

She may have support from some parents at the meeting. Parent Darnell Hill told the station that Curry should be thanked for what she did.  Hill says Curry had helped out his son when he forgot his lunch money.”Do something different than fire her. She’s trying to help,” he said.

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10. Cherry Creek School District released the following statement about this story:

The law does not require the school district to provide the 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 sandwich and milk. 

The district has worked to keep lunch prices low and still meet the federal nutrition requirements. The costs of our lunch program are not covered by the prices we charge. At the end of the year, any unpaid accounts revert back to the general fund which also covers instruction, security, building maintenance and overall operations.

The use of biometrics technology will soon be incorporated into the cafeterias at the North Adams Public Schools. Students will be able to charge their meals by simply placing their forefinger into a device as they get their food in the school lunch line. Until then Jean Ziter, a cafeteria worker at Greylock Elementary School, will continue to do the job manually, recognizing students as they come through the line, or asking them their names, and inputing that information into the register computer. Gillian Jones / Berkshire Eagle Staff / photos.berkshireeagle.com

 

 

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