Stamping The Hands Of Children On The Free Lunch Program Is Just Cruel

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HA1116-001Noell Roni, a former principal at a charter elementary school in Colorado claims that she was fired after she tried to convince school officials to stop the practice of stamping the hands of children - including those who qualified for the free lunch program – when their lunch accounts were empty. The fact that stamping the hands of kids who can’t afford to pay for lunch would be a practice anywhere makes my heart break.

From The Daily Camera:

“As soon as I saw it happening, I was like, ‘No, this is not OK,’” she told the Daily Camera. “The students felt so humiliated, like they had done something wrong. They didn’t want to go into the lunchroom any more. It’s unethical and disrespectful.”

When Roni discovered that workers in the cafeteria were stamping the hands of kids who couldn’t afford to pay for lunch, she asked the food services manager to stop. The stamping continued, which prompted Roni to meet with school leadership, who agreed that the stamping should stop. The food services manager resigned. Three weeks later, a grandparent came to Roni “upset that her grandchildren, who qualified for free lunches, were getting their hands stamped and were too embarrassed to go through the lunch line.” That is just terrible. What kind of monster would be okay with shaming a kid like that?

Evelyn Bernstein, told the Camera on Sunday that she has two grandchildren at the school, a girl in high school and a boy in elementary school.

She said the boy told her that he tried to get pizza from the school lunch line, only to be given a cheese sandwich and have his hand stamped because there was no money in his account — though he qualifies for free lunches and didn’t need [sic] actually need money.

He was embarrassed and didn’t want to get hot lunch again, Bernstein said.

Why would these lunch room workers feel justified shaming a child for not having enough money in an account to pay for lunch? If your job is feeding children for a living, don’t you think you should be most concerned about whether these children are getting fed, not who’s paying for it?

The executive director of education for the charter school demanded Roni take responsibility for the food services manager quitting and placed a disciplinary letter in her file citing “unprofessional conduct.” Roni claimed the director used the incident as an example of insubordination, and it eventually led to her being terminated. Roni’s response to the whole debacle?

“You put kids first. That’s more important than whether I’m going to get along with my co-worker.”

(photo: Getty Images)