Mom pays off students’ lunch balances after school denies son meal

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Michigan mom Amanda When her son was denied a school lunch at his high school, Amanda Keown paid for all of the unpaid lunches. (Credit: FOX 8)

A student in Dowagiac, Mich., says he was humiliated when school officials took away his lunch because there wasn’t enough money in his account. After his mom heard what happened, she took matters into her own hands.

“It was really embarrassing, especially in front of the whole class,” said Dominic Gant, a junior at Dowagiac Union High School.

On Friday, Dominic was served his normal cafeteria lunch, but just as soon as he was served, his lunch was taken away.

Dominic had an outstanding balance of less than $5 in his lunch account. His high school, like many other schools, has a policy that denies a hot lunch, and sometimes any lunch, to students who can’t pay.

“I was appalled that he was denied lunch and his lunch was taken out of his hands over $5,” said Amanda Keown, Dominic’s mom.

She was so upset her son was sent home hungry, she immediately contacted the school. They told her the balance doesn’t matter, even if it’s a small amount.

“She asked me where is the cutoff, where do you draw the line with the charges, when do you say no more? And I said there shouldn’t be a line,” says Keown.

So she took matters into her own hands. She didn’t want to see another student be sent home hungry, so she paid off every student’s outstanding balance in the entire high school.

“I realize I didn’t have to do that but I don’t want another kid going through what my son went through,” said Keown.

TM & © 2014 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

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    • Double Duh

      Isn't it entirely possible that she didn't realize the balance on the card was low? People make mistakes. If there's no history of non-payment or it's a really small balance, is it really necessary to yank a meal out of a kid's hands?

      Plus, once the food is served, they can't put it back to be served to other students. So they throw it away just to make a point over $5? Wouldn't it make a lot more sense to warn the student that they need to pay the balance before they can purchase additional meals?

  • CrabMan

    What a petty operation. The school likely gives a lot of lip service to anti-bullying. Yet, they allow adults to humiliate a kid in front of others and then actually have the nerve to back it up with some kind of zero-tolerance policy. I wonder what they do with a book is over due? A week in detention? Suspend them from school? File charges for theft?

    • Diane

      Crabman chimed in with ". I wonder what they do with a book is over due?

      Depending on grade level . When I was student an over due library book meant you lost library privileges till school property was returned. . Later in life a missing book meant your grades were withheld. Teaches a kid responsibility.

      As with this story …..How old was the student. Grade school could be a bit traumatic for a moment. A high schooler should be able to borrow five bucks from friends, if no one has cash , then true friends would share something off their plate. Unless there are medical issues one missed meal is not going to throw a kid into crises. This kid just learned a life lesson on responsibility.

  • Marcy

    The same thing just happened to my son in a Cicero school. He is in fourth grade and owed 80 cents and they denied him lunch today. Never mind he ate lunch a handful of times this years because as he states " the food is barely edible"….outrageous!!!!!

  • Margo OConnor

    Yes, they turn kids away but the teachers can have huge balances and they still get to eat! Ridiculous ! Good for u mom!!

  • Jerry

    I don't understand her response to the situation. If my cell phone is going to be cut off for non-payment, do I pay everyone's cell phone bill so no one has to be humiliated? And, I'm sorry, but this young man is a junior in high school. He's old enough to recognize the relationship between money and goods and services.

  • Dana

    Oh please! I think this young man can fast for one meal. I hope he learned a lesson. And by Mommy going in and paying off balances for all the others goes to show she has the money. Now all the other youngsters are going to be denied a lesson in learning to be responsible. In my time at school, you would not have eaten if you didn't pay.

  • sonny

    Poor kids in tennessee years ago were I went to school who brought their lunch were forced to eat outside in the cold ,snow whatever and some couldn't afford to bring anything so they didn't eat.I no this because I was one of those poor kids.Does it still go on ? DAM RIGHT IT DOES.