(Memphis) The mother of a Shelby County School second grader said her son was humiliated when staff took away his lunch, and threw it away, all because he was 50 cents short.
"A child should never be humiliated at school over fifty cents," said a Dogwood Elementary parent who wanted to keep her identity hidden.
She didn't want to put her child through even more embarrassment.
She said the way it works: children go through the lunch line, grab what they want and punch in their personal account numbers at the end of the line.
One day last week, her son was short money.
"They took his lunch away from him and gave him like a paper sack free lunch in front of all the other kids. He was totally humiliated," she said.
Someone who works at the school told WREG it's district policy.
They have to take the hot lunch away if there isn't enough cash in the account.
They are told to give the student a sack lunch and throw away the hot food, because it's unsanitary to do anything else with it.
Shelby County Schools wouldn't go on camera, but said it would never throw a lunch away.
District administrators released this statement: " If a student forgets his or her lunch money, they will still receive a meal from the cafeteria. The meal could be a variety of things, including the meals being served or an alternative lunch. This is a practice of the district, not something required by policy."
"They are taking lunches from very small children. They are humiliating them in front of their friends, and now they're going to lie about it? At least stand by your policy," said the mother.
She said her son isn't the only child who had a meal thrown away.
She's heard from other parents and students from other schools in the district who have had it happened.
She has called SCS's nutrition department begging for a change in policy.
She's suggested the district bill the parents, and the parents have a certain amount of days to pay the school back.
"They all defended their practice that if there is not enough money in that account, $2.25, they take the kids lunch away," she said.