Elementary School Kitchen Manager Fired For Giving Hungry Children Lunches
Della Curry was the kitchen manager for the Cherry Hill School District in Aurora, CO. Well, she was the kitchen manager until she was fired last Friday afternoon for giving children who did not have the money free lunches.
After being fired, Della said she did help children from time to time and even paid for their lunches out of her own pocket because she felt that the federally mandated slice of cheese on a hamburger bun and small milk was not sufficient to nourish a hungry child.
In this latest incident, which led to her termination, she said she had a crying, hungry first-grader in front of her and yes, she gave her a lunch. Della claims that many students' families who are just over the poverty line have a hard time making ends meet and can't always afford the school lunch. To qualify for the free lunch program in their district, 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.
More than one parent has said that they thought that the punishment was too strict for the crime and that the school should have done something different to discipline Della Curry.
A statement from the school district said:
"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."
Honestly, I can see both sides of the issue here. Maybe there should be something more than a slice of cheese on a hamburger bun and a small milk provided for these kids. I know for a fact that I have had problems with the auto pay system at my kid's school and have had them put in a position to eat the cheese sandwich or go hungry. The fact of the matter is after only three times of not having or remembering the money, the school then uses that federal mandate as a guideline. And all too often my kid forgets or doesn't tell me that he is behind until that three days or more have past.
On the other hand, rules are rules and they are there for the most part to keep things fair in a public school system and giving away free lunches to a few is simply not fair to others who did manage to scrape together the money their kid needed for a hot lunch. And the bottom line is that if a cashier was not scanning some items at the grocery store because she wanted to help the poor, she would be fired immediately as well. It is, after all, stealing.