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Student Denied Lunch So Mom Pays Off All Overdue Accounts

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(Dowagiac, MI) A Dowagiac student said he was humiliated when school officials took away his lunch because there wasn’t enough money in his account.

After his mom heard what happened, she took matters into her own hands.

“It was really embarrassing, especially in front of the whole class,” said Dominic Gant, a junior at Dowagiac Union High School.

Friday, Dominic was served his normal cafeteria lunch, but just as soon as he was served, his lunch was taken away.

Dominic had an outstanding balance of less than $5 in his lunch account.

His high school, like many other schools, has a policy that denies a hot lunch, and sometimes any lunch, to students who can’t pay.

“I was appalled that he was denied lunch and his lunch was taken out of his hands over $5,” said Amanda Keown, Dominic’s mom.

She was so upset her son was sent home hungry, she immediately contacted the school.

They told her the balance doesn’t matter, even if it’s a small amount.

“She asked me ‘where is the cutoff? Where do you draw the line with the charges? When do you say no more?’ And I said ‘there shouldn’t be a line,’” says Keown.

She didn’t want to see another student be sent home hungry, so she spent $200 to pay off every student’s outstanding balance in the entire high school.

“I realize I didn’t have to do that but I don’t want another kid going through what my son went through,” said Keown.

Learn more from WBND-TV.


    • donaknowsitall

      Valerie, I can assure you that this parent did NOT know her child din’t have any money left in his account. If she would have known she would have paid it. Why I think this is beause she PAID OFF SEVERAL OTHERS CHILDRENS ACCOUNTS. This is not child neglect. We don’t know the whole story here.

      I say, good for this mom that did the right thing!

  • matthew horvath

    what sickens me here is that inmates get free food. but our kids in our schools have to pay or risk having it taken away from them in front of everyone.

  • Other

    The questions not being asked are, “Why was the account in arrears in the first place? Isn’t it the parent’s responsibility to keep it funded? So why didn’t she?

    • Lann Man

      @ Other
      Your questions are valid and move the conversation right to the heart of the issue. While I can’t answer your first question, I would answer your second question with a resounding YES; parents are responsible or at least they are supposed to be. Reading some of the other comments posted it would seem that other responders would rather blame the school for the child going hungry instead of the parent that had the power to avoid the situation in the first place.

      • Lann Man

        @ Miss Tee

        So your definition of being a classy person seems to be not meeting your responsibilities to your children and then blame someone else. Very classy!

  • Fallon

    The child should have gotten his lunch, and talked to later about an outstanding balance.. Not humiliated!

  • Melissa Howard

    This is happening everywhere! I am so consumed with trying to get to work and kids up my and other things I need to do sometimes in the morning that , I have forgotten the lunch money…and my kids have been denied lunch and I find that a little harsh considering they will hold your childs report card at end of year till balance due is paid. The amount owed does get paid anyways so why are you not allowing these kids to eat. It’s working families paying and because of working we spend less time and now we are not making sure they eat while gone all day….. Go figure with the way our system is ran… sad but true!

  • Kat

    Why didn’t the school mail a letter to his mother saying there was an outstanding balance? That way to avoid any humiliation? So it stands both are to blame. problem solved. .

  • Vernice

    The school and the parent are to blame. It is inhuman to allow a child to go hungry a full day due to an error of the parent and school. The past due charge should have been discussed with the parent. The media is constantly discussing children should eat a well balanced meal so they can concentrate on listening to the teachers. The school officials are obviously more concerned about their school funds than their children inability to pay attention caused by missing lunch..

  • Pride in Memphis

    If the school is up on who don’t have enough money in their account , why they don’t consider sending a balance due note home to the parents on Friday. The sad thing about this is that once the food is taken away it is then trashed. they could have let the kid keep it at that point. If they need to monitor anyone, they should monitor the staff that takes a lot of the uncooked food home.

  • Dennis

    I think that we pay enough school taxes that EVERY child should be able to eat free. Seriously?! Don’t make a child go hungry over five dollars. Or ANY amount. The fact that they just throw the food away once it’s taken away shows that they would rather prove a point than care for a child. Animals in our cities pound wouldn’t be treated that way. Why treat a human being who is worth so much more that way?

  • alfredaybrown

    Kudos to THAT Mom, instead of all the if, ands.. and buts…Good deeds will be rewarded!

  • gary

    That is cruel to put the lunch in the kids hands and take it away and I am sure they had to dispose it in the garbage because you can’t give it to someone else after been in someone’s elses hands. Somebody needs their butt kicked.

  • anitat

    I used to count the days and write a check, mark the due date on the calendar…and inevitably they would say she was due one to two weeks before. every time I had to go show the check and they would say, well maybe you were behind, we did not make an error. so i woldn’t be surprised if similar things happened everywhere

  • CA

    This has happened several times to my step-son too. I understand policies, trust me, I really do but we are a working family who always has money on our son’s account. However, the notifications that we receive for having a low-balance are ridiculous and sometimes show up too late. Additionally, I’ve put money on his account only for it NOT to show up for up to 24-48 hours when the school told us specifically that it adds to the account immediately! And the most he has ever had outstanding is maybe $5. Yes, there are times that I have flat-out forgotten like others have said, but I get on the lunch money app and put money on right when I do realize. It’s a ridiculous system as a few people have mentioned, these are our kids…and this is the way they are treated!? How do we think this will affect our kids’ view on society and respecting authority? Kids are smart and they absorb so much, do we think they won’t notice they aren’t being prohibited from eating in their school but inmates being properly fed?

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