School lunch tiff causes a stir in Seward
LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – Seward’s school lunch policies are in question after a student’s lunch was tossed in the trash in front of his peers.
Tristin Cutshall-Cherry, a student at Seward High School, said his lunch account had a little over a $20 negative balance when he tried to get food on Friday.
He said a cafeteria worker approached him when he had his tray.
“She was like, ‘Well, you’re in the negatives for your lunch and, well, give me this.’ She took my food from me and just threw it into the trash can,” Tristin said.
The district’s policy said students who owe more than $20 will be provided and charged for a “courtesy meal,” such as a plain sandwich.
Tristin said after his lunch was thrown away, the cafeteria worker yelled at him and gave him a sandwich and milk carton.
“I didn’t feel like I was a student,” he said. “I felt like I was just somebody getting yelled at on the street for no reason.”
Other students and a teacher offered to pay for his lunch, but he was still given only the courtesy meal.
Seward Public Schools Superintendent Josh Fields said five students were given a different meal on Friday because of their negative balances.
He said the school does not condone the actions of the cafeteria worker.
The lunch employees at Seward are managed by a separate company, Sodexo Food Service.
Sodexo’s district manager, Bob Snowden, released a statement saying, “We are committed to continually improving our services, and last week’s incident at Seward High School, where a student was denied lunch, has been addressed. This should never have happened, and we will use this incident as a training opportunity for all staff to understand the importance of following policies and procedures to avoid incidents such as this in the future.”
One student at the school has started to bring lunches for anyone who might need one.
Eve Brumm said she used to be in the free and reduced lunch program.
She said it can be embarrassing for kids, which is why she and her mother have been waking up early to prepare around 20 lunches.
Brumm said she hopes her stepping up will encourage the district and Sodexo to make a change in their policies.
“I’m going to continue doing it until I need to not do it anymore,” she said. “If I have to do it for the rest of the school year, I will.”
Fields said the district is reevaluating its school lunch policy.
Tristin said he felt supported by the school and knew they couldn’t do much to help him in the moment.
“It’s not the school’s fault; that’s the one thing I want to say,” he said. “It’s not like my principal was just standing by and letting this happen.”
Channel 8 has asked Sodexo if the employee involved will continue to work at the school but has not received a response.