Moses Lake sixth grader denied lunch due to deficient account



Posted on June 4, 2014 at 6:02 PM

Updated Saturday, Jun 7 at 10:09 AM

Do you agree with the lunch policy?

MOSES LAKE, Wash.—A Moses Lake School District lunch policy is outraging parents and leaving some students hungry.

A parent contacted KREM 2 News after a cafeteria worker at Frontier Middle School took her daughter’s lunch back because she had run out of lunch credits. The sixth-grade student, Kaytlyn Owens owed the school about $3 in lunch money.

“They said, ‘I have to pull your lunch today’,” Kaytlyn explained. “I was kind of upset because I was so hungry.”

Owens’ mother said she was unaware her daughter had run out of credits.

“She walked in and said, ‘my stomach hurts so bad’,” said Tesia Owens. “I was so angry.”

Tesia learned employees working in the school’s cafeteria are instructed to withhold lunches from students who owe money.  Crews commonly take the lunches away from students because they do not know who owes money until the food is served.  

“When she said it wasn’t just her, it had been so many kids all week; my question is ‘how are these kids going to learn when they are hungry?’” Tesia asked.

She said the school eventually throws those lunches away.

The Moses Lake School District Business and Operations Executive Director said students are given multiple verbal and written warnings when they are close to overdrawing their lunch accounts, but Kaytlyn said this was the first time her lunch was taken away from her.

“I’ve been negative $10 before and they still gave me lunch,” she said.

The business director said the schools had to draw the line somewhere when they began catching up with debt at the end of the year.  District officials said the policy did not apply to elementary school students who get emergency back-up lunches with bread, cheese and fruit.

As for Kaytlyn, Owens said she dropped off $40 to go toward more than $100 that students still owed so no one else would end up embarrassed and hungry again before the end of the school year.