Most of us consider our youth to be a carefree time in life but for Anya Howard, it also had a very stressful event. The little girl is a six-year-old kindergartner at Southwest Elementary School in Indiana. Like many school districts, they offer the opportunity for the parents to put lunch money in an account so that the meals are paid for automatically.
Anya was preparing to pay for her normal lunch, and she had a hot tray of food ready. On that day, the cafeteria worker told her that there wasn’t enough money in her account to pay for the meal.
The little girl was heartbroken as she was told to head to the back of the line. In the process, she had to walk past her classmates and settle for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Her friends were laughing at her.
“They were laughing at us, and they got more food than us,” Anya said.
Dwight Howard is her grandfather and he was livid over the situation. He even referred to it as the “cafeteria walk of shame.”
“When she was talking to me about it, she was more than ‘sad,’” he said, adding that he wants the policy for something like this to be changed. “I mean, that’s embarrassing for a little 6-year-old.”
There was only $0.10 left in the account when she tried to buy the meal, which cost $2.25. The school district is supposed to notify families when the funds are low but the Howards say that no such notification was given. Otherwise, they would have topped it off.
According to the Greenwood Community Schools superintendent, Kent DeKoninck, the family did receive reminders when the balance reaches five dollars.
“It is not an uncommon occurrence for multiple students to be served the alternate lunch on any given day,” DeKoninck said. “Any time this happens, our staff looks to handle all of these as discreetly as possible.”