Middle-school student's lunch taken, thrown out

6th-grade student's lunch gets thrown out.

A new school, still working out the kinks, is working on a serious problem when it comes to school lunches.

The problem? A student at Victory Middle School says his two friends got their lunches taken and thrown away because they didn't have money in their accounts.

"You have people starving in other places and you're just wasting food and it's just not right," said sixth-grader Gavin Priest. "I would definitely be embarrassed. What are they going to eat? They still need food to power through the day."

Gavin and his father, Chris Priest, say this isn't the first time a student's lunch was taken and thrown away. Gavin had his lunch taken away when he was in the first grade.

"At the end of the day the solution is not taking away food and making kids go hungry," said Chris Priest.

Eric Exline, with the West Ada School District, says this incident happened because Victory Middle School is brand new. 

"We put a lot of systems in place to try and prevent the kind of problem we've had at Victory," said Exline. "In this particular case a number of those parts of the system weren't working as Victory was was opening."

The most crucial part of that system - the cash registers - were not up and running online. That means parents were not notified by automated calls when their child's account was low. Another problem: the cafeteria's layout.

"If your cash register comes before the food, which it always does at the elementary but only sometimes works that way at the secondary, that makes it a little bit more difficult to manage," Exline said.

Exline says elementary school students are allowed three meal charges once they reach a zero-dollar amount in their account, and middle-school students are allowed two.

Once a student reaches a negative balance in their account, they're asked to go talk to the principal. In some cases, the principal provides a lunch or buys one through an administrator account. 

"Then they work with the families to say, 'Well you've gotten behind maybe you need some assistance, and maybe we should get you on the free and reduced-lunch program,' " said Exline.

Exline also says 22 percent of the students in the district qualify for that program.

"For some kids this is the best meal they get all day," said Exline. "A hungry child is a distracted child - they're not prepared for school."

Copyright 2016 KTVB


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