Halifax Co. Student's Lunch Thrown Out Over New Procedures

Halifax Co., VA - A Halifax County mother is looking for some changes after her daughter's school lunch was thrown away by a cafeteria worker.

The middle school student was told that she had an outstanding balance on her lunch account, and was given water and crackers to eat instead.

School officials say this was proper protocol.

The school system put these procedures in place because it was losing money from unpaid lunches. Now they have to find a way to work with parents on this issue to make sure the students don't suffer.
Lisa Hatcher says her daughter Ruby didn't deserve to be caught in the middle of a monetary issue.
"Once I got home and found out they had thrown her food away, I started crying. I was hurt because my child was embarrassed and humiliated, " said Hatcher.
Hatcher says she only owed $5.25 when they tossed out her daughter's lunch. So Lisa brought her frustrations to a recent school board meeting.
"I wanted an answer, I wanted to know. I'm not going to let that happen to my child again, " Hatcher said.
School officials say this procedure is in place for a reason.
Superintendent Merle Herndon tried to implement a petty cash fund in each school to fix the problem, but the schools were losing money.
"One of the principals called and said, "That was a good idea, but we're already $65 in the hole, '" said Herndon.
When a student's account gets low, the school sends the child home with a letter. If the money is still not paid, the student gets crackers and water.
"We're not in the business of having children to be at school without their lunch, but we do need our parents to be responsible, " said Herndon.
The school board is in the process of finding new ways to help parents stay on top of lunch account balances, but Hatcher says she won't rest until no other student has to give up their lunch.
"I've accepted my responsibility. I think they should share some accountability, " said Hatcher.
The board is currently exploring the idea of using text alerts or phone messages to keep parents informed.
They have had issues with sending letters home with students because sometimes those letters don't quite make it to the parents.