You better bring your lunch money if you expect a midday meal at Coelho Middle School in Attleboro, Mass., because the school lunch ladies obviously don’t mess around.
The school’s contracted food service vendor, Whitsons Culinary Group, refused to serve some 25 students on Tuesday because the students didn’t have sufficient funds on their prepaid meal card accounts.
Some hungry students were even told to throw the food they already had on their trays in the garbage, reports CBS Boston.
Some of the kids were so upset they were crying.
Parents were not pleased.
“I don’t understand how they could do that to a child,” Misti Blessing, the parent of an 11-year-old Coelho Middle School student, told CBS Boston.
“I apologized to the students on behalf of Whitsons for their irresponsible mistake,” said Andrew Boles, the school principal, according to CBS Boston.
School district superintendent Pia Durkin has since placed the Whitsons on-site director on administrative leave.
A spokeswoman for the food-service company told The Sun Chronicle of Attleboro that the incident was “not handled correctly.” Whitsons wants to apologize to the students and their families.
Durkin maintains that Whitsons did not follow an agreed-upon process for resolving outstanding credit balances meal card account balances. (That procedure is to provide students a certain number of meals on credit, then to provide cheese sandwiches and milk until Whitsons and the students’ parents can work out payment arrangements.)
However, says The Sun Chronicle, the middle school’s assistant principal announced during lunch that students couldn’t eat lunch unless they paid up front.
Whatever the case, a Whitsons spokesman told The Sun Chronicle that extending credit when students haven’t yet paid for meals hasn’t been a big issue in the school district.
Dunkin added that the entire Attleboro school district is currently in arrears about $1,800 because of school lunches provided on credit.
According to Whitsons.com, a school lunch at Coelho Middle School costs $2.60.
On Tuesday, the menu options on offer included big, beefy nachos as well as veggie dippers and meat-lovers pizza.