Cafeteria Worker Throws Out Student's Lunch Because He's 26 Cents Short

Efforts to get parents to pay meal account debts go too far

Lunch tray
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A father is blasting his young son's school after a cafeteria worker at Kent, Washington's Mill Creek Middle School threw away the kid's lunch because he was 26 cents short.

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"He gets up to the front and they say there's not enough in his account, so they take his food, and in front of him, throw it away," Jimmie Keys, the boy's father, told Komo News.

Keys's son told him this had happened twice in the past week, prompting his irate dad to confront school administrators. Lunches at the school cost 40 cents, and are paid for using a meal account system similar to a debit card. Parents are supposed to be alerted when meal funds are running low, but Keys said he was never notified.

"My first instinct was to get a huge jar of pennies, and get it ready," Keys said. "I was going to take it down to the school and throw it on 'em."

He didn't do that, but school district spokesperson Chris Loftis was quick to describe the incident as a terrible mistake. He also said that cafeteria workers, far from throwing out a child's food, are actually required to give students a free yogurt or cereal when they're short on funds.

"I just have to say sorry to this student, sorry to the parents," he said. "We made a mistake, we need to fix it, we're sorry."

Apparently, this is tied into the school's end-of-year effort to encourage parents to pay outstanding debts on meal accounts; the cafeteria worker, Loftis said, simply took the dictum too far. He added that in the future, parents will be given more time to add funds to their kids' meal accounts.

"We forgot the humanity of it," Loftis said. "We've learned from this. and the kindness of all of our workers is not going to be overwhelmed by the policies and procedures that we're required to follow."

Mack Gelber

Mack Gelber

Associate Programming Manager

Mack Gelber is a Brooklyn-based writer and editor who has covered entertainment for AOL TV, and contributed fiction to Joyland Magazine and the Bushwick Review. He is a graduate of Oberlin College, where he studied creative writing. Twitter: @mackgelber

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That cafeteria workers should apologize or be fired.

That is cruelty.

Anything that happens to innocent, vulnerable children is sickening and those suspects should be held 100% responsible.

I do not care even if the boy has no money. He should be given food regardless. He has to go to that school, take classes, do homework, and deal with...

June 19 2014 at 3:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Anyone ever think of what the Past 5 Years has brough to our great country

June 19 2014 at 3:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What in heavens name is wrong with these people, Best Western breaking the law by refusing a service dog on their premises, and now
a young man having his lunch thrown out twice because his account was a few cents short. Who hires these spiteful loosers ?

June 19 2014 at 2:31 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Ann's comment

They are Protected by the UNION'S

June 19 2014 at 3:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am sure this worker would not have done this to their child or grandchild! should be fired immediately, only after paying for that child's lunch out of their own pocket. then the worker should rot, well you know where............

June 19 2014 at 2:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


I am sure this cafeteria worker would not have done this to their child or grand-child! this person should rot, well you know where............

June 19 2014 at 2:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What is wrong with these people? If they operated like a bank, they'd let the kid eat the lunch and just tack a surcharge on the lunch account and end up making more money. Morons.

June 19 2014 at 1:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brian or Janice

Why does this continue to happen in these schools?? You would think that by all the publicity that they get via social media that they wouldn't continue to do it. And, the Farm Bill supports most of that meal anyway, to me, when they throw it away, they are throwing away American Tax dollars at work, NOBODY should be throwing good food away. I use to work as a Card Merchandiser, I loved my part time job, I could work it around, most of the time, milking my dairy cows & working on the farm, but what I didn't care for was the waste, when cards or merchandise was not selling or they had new coming on board, I had to scanned the cards/merchandise out of the system & throw it away.

June 19 2014 at 12:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

That was not a nice thing to do toward that child. I bet she would not throw her kid's meal away. She should be fired.
If it was me I would have given the kid the 26 cents.................

June 19 2014 at 12:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

And this ladies & gentlemen, is how Michelle Odummy wants HER school food program to run. She's nothing but a power-hungry black Nazi, that wants to completely control peoples lives, starting with the kids.

June 19 2014 at 11:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Obviously they do not hire brain surgeons as cafeteria workers in schools.

The buck stops at the Board of Ed decisions. On the other hand, with all the smart phones around, a parent can't set a reminder to check the account every two weeks?

June 19 2014 at 9:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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