Students with more than $15 of lunch debt who went through the cafeteria line at Minnesota's Richfield High School had their hot meals taken off their trays, thrown in the trash, and replaced with cold lunches when cafeteria workers saw the amount of debt on their accounts. The incident was captured on video and posted to social media Monday, prompting outrage and causing Richfield Public Schools to apologize, KARE 11 reports. "Our nutrition staff inaccurately and inappropriately implemented alternate lunch," the superintendent says. "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." As many as 40 students were affected, and the district says it has personally apologized to some of them.
The superintendent says students should always be allowed to keep and eat the items on their tray, regardless of lunch debt, and that students should be notified of any lunch debt issues privately, not publicly. The district released a more extensive statement on Facebook, explaining that "our nutrition services staff began implementing an existing practice that students with a meal balance of -$15 or more are provided with an alternate lunch. Unfortunately, this was not implemented in line with our guidelines or our values" and was only in place for two lunch periods and was halted by administrators before a third lunch period. The principal of the school also apologized: "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." (Read more school lunch stories.)