Indiana Kindergartner 'Lunch-Shamed' for Not Having Enough Money for Her $2.25 Meal

Anya Howard said her classmates laughed at her after a cafeteria worker sent her to the back of the line for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich

Last Friday, 6-year-old Anya Howard had already received her hot lunch when a cafeteria aide told the kindergartner at Southwest Elementary School in Greenwood, Indiana that she didn’t have enough money in her lunch account for the $2.25 meal, she told WISH in Indianapolis.

“They told me I needed to give my food back,” said Anya.

The student told WISH that she and another student had to walk past about 20 of their classmates to the back of the line for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

“They were laughing at us,” she explained of being “lunch-shamed,” noting it made her feel “sad.”

Anya’s grandfather, Dwight Howard, told the station of the “cafeteria walk of shame”: “When she was talking to me about it, she was more than ‘sad.’ I mean, that’s embarrassing for a little 6 year old.”

Anya Howard
News 8
Dwight Howard.

PEOPLE reached out to Howard for comment but he has not yet responded.

Greenwood Community Schools superintendent Kent DeKoninck told the Indianapolis Star that the district was suspending its policy of giving students cold sandwiches if their cafeteria funds dipped below the amount needed to cover a hot meal.

PEOPLE reached out to DeKoninck for comment but did not immediately receive a reply. A request for comment from the principal and cafeteria supervisor was directed to DeKoninck’s office.

Howard told WISH that he received a note from the school dated Friday, May 17, that her account was at 10 cents, and that they had not been previously alerted of a low balance.

“They waited until there was a dime left, denied her the opportunity to eat the lunch that she had [been served and tried to pay for] and then she had to go to the end of the line to wait for a PB&J,” Dwight told WISH.

DeKonick told the station that parents receive payment reminders when accounts have $5 left. Greenwood’s cafeteria policy, the Indianapolis Star reports, calls for providing students an “alternate meal” if cafeteria funds go below a required minimum.

DeKoninck met with Anya’s family on Tuesday, he told the Indianapolis Star, and they are all “on the same page.”

“They have a better understanding of the events that actually happened and we’re in a good spot,” DeKoninck said. “We came to a real good understanding of the situation.”

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