Lunch debt disaster: Hot meals tossed

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RICHFIELD, Minn. (KARE) – School officials in Richfield, Minnesota are apologizing after as many as 40 students in the lunch line had their hot lunches taken off of their trays, thrown in the trash and replaced with a cold lunch when a lunchroom staff member at the register saw that they had outstanding lunch debts of more than $15.

“There are multiple failures we had in this situation and our job is to fix it. First and foremost (in) the way we treated our kids. We should never leave kids with the feeling they had from the experience,” Richfield Superintendent Steven Unowsky said.

Richfield High School Principal Latanya Daniels also admitted, fully, what happened to those students was wrong.

“One of the things we can do is model failure with grace. We absolutely failed in this situation, and our team is working to try and rectify mistakes we made,” Daniels said.

What should have happened was one of two things; first, if a student is in the line with a lunch on their tray, no matter the balance at the register, they will keep it and be allowed to eat it, according to Unowsky.

Their balance would be noted at that point electronically, not verbally in front of others and then a call would go to their parents. The student may then, in private, be approached by a social worker or guidance counselor to figure out what help they might need.

Second, a student with a negative balance would be notified before they get into a lunch line, again, privately.

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