An elementary school cafeteria worker in Pennsylvania says she resigned from her position after a new school district policy forced her to take hot lunches away from two hungry students even though the school throws away pounds of food daily.
Stacy Koltiska, who worked for the Canon McMillan School District in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area, worked for two years at Wylandville Elementary. However, last Thursday she announced that she was resigning because of her disagreement with a new school district policy that required her to take away lunches from two students.
Koltiska wrote in a Facebook post that under the new policy, which was enacted over the summer and immediately went into effect this school year, students who fall more than $25 in debt on their school lunch account will not be given a hot lunch.
While older students (grades 7 through 12) who fall more than $25 in debt will not be given anything to eat, state law requires the school to feed children who are in kindergarten through sixth grade. So for those younger students who fall over $25 in debt, the district's new policy requires that they must be given a sandwich.
However, Koltiska contends that even the sandwich the school district wants the cafeteria workers to hand out to those students in debt has little dietary value, yet the children are still being charged full price.
"In Rule 808.1 it says that children in K through 6 will be provided a 'sandwich,'" Koltiska explained on Facebook. "What you don't know is that they are being given one piece of cheese on bread."
"This isn't even being toasted. Yet they are still being charged the FULL PRICE of a HOT LUNCH that is being DEINIED [sic] to them," she added.
Koltiska said that as the policy went into effect immediately, she didn't even make it out of the first week of school before she had to take a hot chicken meal away from a first-grade student and give him the overpriced "cheese sandwich."
"I will never forget the look on his face and then his eyes welled up with tears," Koltiska said in her Facebook post. "I was going to resign on Monday but my mother passed away on Sunday so I forgot about it until yesterday when it happened again. I had the same sick feeling so today I resigned. What makes this even MORE SICKENING is that we throw so much food away EVERYDAY."
"So Our Children are being served cheese, being charged and denied the hot food that we then throw away," she continued. "Once again, it comes down to profits over people but this time the people are our children. If you are as outraged at this disgusting policy, please take a minute and e-mail Michael W. Daniels, superintendent of schools, Joni Mansmann, director of business and finance."
In an interview with CBS Pittsburgh, Koltiska labeled the school's policy to be nothing more than "lunch shaming."
Officials from the school district told CBS Pittsburgh that parents were given written notice about the new lunch policy before the 2016-2017 school year began.
Superintendent Daniels told the news outlet that the policy is not about "shaming" the students but rather just collecting debt owed to the school district, since there were about 300 families in debt before the policy was enacted. Now, he says, there are only 66 families in debt to the school district.
"They fluctuated between $60,000 to $100,000 owed annually," Daniels explained. "Now, it's down to less than $20,000."
Daniels added that parents are notified every week about the balances of their children's lunch account.
"There has never been the intent with the adoption of this policy to shame or embarrass a child."
Koltiska told CBS Pittsburgh that although she agrees that parents should be held accountable, she believes that "there has to be a better way than involving the children."