CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) – Some parents in Cheektowaga are angry after learning their children’s lunches were thrown away because they owed money on their meal accounts.
An upset parent contacted News 4, asking us to look into why cafeteria workers took lunches away from some students at Cleveland Hill’s high school and middle school, and threw the food away.
In some cases the accounts were just a few cents short.
“At first I didn’t believe it,” said Jon MacSwan, Superintendent of the Cleveland Hill Union Free School District in Cheektowaga.
MacSwan pinned the outrageous behavior on a cafeteria worker, employed by a private food service that runs the Cleve Hill cafeteria. The superintendent describes the worker taking on the job of a debt collector, tossing about a dozen lunches of students who owed money.
“[The worker] had a lapse in judgment and denied approximately 10 to 15 student lunches, and those lunches were disposed of as the students were going through the lunch line,” said MacSwan.
If the students don’t pay, the private company, Personal Touch Food Service of Buffalo, doesn’t get paid, according to MacSwan. The worker would run the student’s name through the account and the students that did show up with a negative account balance at that time, the lunches were disposed of in front of them.
As a practice in the Cleve Hill district, MacSwan says when a student comes up short on their account at lunchtime, they are given a bag lunch, and parents are asked to bring the account up to date.
But the superintendent says, students are never denied lunch, and that did not happen this time.
Once school staff confirmed the incident, MacSwan says he sent out notices to parents, “And I worked quickly with the food service director and the company to correct the situation, and sent out some communication to our community to assure them this won’t happen again.”
MacSwan assured parents every one of those students did eventually get fed. Some came up with the money and paid for lunch, while others were taken back to the cafeteria and fed, whether they had the money or not.
Personal Touch Food Service did not respond to our request for a comment about the stingy worker.