Elementary school cafeteria worker Della Curry says she got fired for feeding hungry children who didn’t have enough money to pay for their lunches—but who also didn’t qualify for the federal free lunch program.
Curry, a mother of two, told KCNC-TV, “I had a first grader in front of me, crying, because she doesn’t have enough money for lunch. Yes, I gave her lunch. I’ll own that I broke the law. The law needs to be changed.”
Curry noted that many families can’t afford to send them lunch, despite not being close enough to the poverty line to qualify for free or reduced cost lunches. In other cases, kids often forget their lunch the way they forget to do their math homework. They’re kids.
Curry’s Cherry Creek School District wouldn’t speak to press, but posted a statement on their website without mentioning her name, stating that students are given free lunches the first three times they forget their lunch money. After that, they are given a cheese, or if available, turkey sandwich, and milk, per CNN. The school district emphasized, “No child is ever allowed to go without lunch.”
If that’s indeed the school’s policy, frankly, it’s better than many, where kids are just expected to starve or rely on lunch lady generosity. Of course, if Curry indeed broke the law, then her firing, while sad, is warranted—because the money for those lunches has to come from somewhere (read: taxpayers), and she admits to occasionally, but not always, paying for it out of her own pocket. It raises a lot of questions about the federal free and reduced lunch programs, namely, why haven’t they been expanded if so many kids are going hungry between 9 and 3?