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First-grader says school lunch lady told him, ‘Guess what? You can’t have a lunch’

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7-year-old Xavier tells how he was denied lunch at school in Snohomish. (Photo: KCPQ-TV)

SNOHOMISH. Wash.–  The only thing 7-year-old Xavier loves more than his math homework are his fruits and veggies.

But Xavier’s parents say they’re concerned because on about Oct. 20, the first-grader was denied school lunch at Cascade View Elementary.

“It was a sack lunch. It was in a bag, she was passing it around to everybody.  The lunch lady said, ‘Guess what, you can’t have a lunch.’ She said that.  She said I can’t have a lunch,” says Xavier.

Dad says Xavier is on the free lunch program.  But instead of getting a meal, he says, Xavier was sent home with a grumbling tummy and a slip saying he had a negative lunch balance.

“My question was never answered as to why he was denied.  I was very mad.  I couldn’t believe it happened.  It happened to me as a child and I could still feel that hurt and I can only imagine what he went through,” says Eric.

Data pix.

We contacted the Snohomish County School District and they say they're looking into the situation.  The school spokesperson says whenever a student’s account is negative $20 or more, the child gets a cheese sandwich and unlimited fruits and veggies from the salad bar, along with a drink.

Eric says this doesn't apply to his son.

“We get funds from the state, food stamp wise, which means his balance should be covered,” says Eric.

He says he's angry over how the school handled the situation and he's concerned over how it's affected Xavier.

Eric says it's left such a bad taste in his mouth, he's thinking of removing his children from the school.

“It made me feel really bad for him.  That’s not right.  That’s like saying, ‘Hey, you don't have your book bag so you can't have your education’.  You can’t do that.  Feed them.  They need to eat.  They need to concentrate.  They can’t concentrate without eating.  I just don't want this to happen to any other kid.  It’s hurtful,” says Eric.


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  • Lisa Stonger

    for starters,we,as americans are a very selfish lot… child {or adult} should be left out of anything as important as the basic needs of food .no school or church or public place where are children come freely should be so cold and selfish as to not come up with something to eat and a warm hug no matter what the parents financial situation is ……..the lunch lady should have to spend some time serving to the homeless…maybe she would find her heart…….

    • Franc Camaj

      Selfish? 1st of all, please list countries that are less selfish than the USA and that give more to the poor. Reality is that you won’t find one, so your sad attempt at trying to make people feel bad can go kiss my ass. If you have spent any time in low income neighborhoods, you would quickly realize that many in those neighborhoods know EXACTLY how the system works. Here you’ll find parent after parent doing drugs, having children and expecting someone else to pay for it. When you see what I see on a daily basis, people and comments like yours makes it clear you don’t have a clue on what goes on!

    • Angie

      Ian: I am with you buddy!!!!!!!!!! I agree and I cant believe these people who are ripping on the parent rather than concentrating on the REAL issue at hand. Bravo!!

      • Franc Camaj

        Angie, you can’t believe these people ripping the parent? So the parent holds no responsibility? What a bunch of crap! You do realize they are ALREADY receiving free food, but since when is someone else’s child my responsibility? I bust my ass to pay my taxes and support my family, but this parent doesn’t seem to have a sense of humility, rather a sense of entitlement. He’s on food stamps, doesn’t pay school or property taxes, so what else do you think this country should be doing for him and his family, because you clearly aren’t counting the fact that taxpayers are already paying for this child’s food and education.

        • Angie S.

          I understand how you feel-i really do. I too am a high bracket tax payer. I also believe in paying ones own way. My point is deal with the parent/s after the fact but do not deny the child a lunch. Its not any child’s fault their parent doesnt or isnt paying their own way. Thats not a child problem in my home, but rather an adult issue. Children should never carry the burden of adukt issues. I for one do not mind having my taxes pay for people to eat. Its a basic necessity to live and i am not denying anyone that because it might cost me an extra 5$ a year from my paycheck. Really its very little that we pay . I believe in the greater good of all not simply the greater good of me.

  • Daniel Janvrin

    I want to talk about something that needs to be brought up regarding how American Society in general reacts to poverty we live in an increasingly secular society where many people have forsaken GOD and have forgotten Christianity in general. In affect the majority of people have become increasingly self serving and worried more about their own needs or desires and more concerned about what they can do for themselves when they should be more open to the idea of following after Christ more closely by their actions and by the way they treat those who are suffering. poverty itself is painful, for instance children that go without food can become racked with pain do to a lack of nourishment. I find it very sad that most of American society turns a blind eye to the suffering and poverty of the poor instead they blame the poor or become judgmental toward the poor or act in a vindictive nature.We as human beings have a mandate and obligation from Christ Himself to care for those less fortunate than us. In conclusion I ask all of you to keep your light for Christ shining and burning brightly don’t cave in to secular society.. You may hear coworkers at your job’s or places of employment where you may work who may be critical of helping those in poverty or who may use harsh or vindictive words or just plain judging, or try to tell you that that we are doing to0 much to help.I want to say we can never do too much when there are those who are suffering in the world or even in our own community.So again if you ever hear anyone in the community or town in which you live say the poor are poor on purpose , continue to hold fast to your faith.
    Daniel Janvrin

    • Franc Camaj

      Daniel, you do realize that this family doesn’t pay for food or education. Before you go pointing fingers at others, taxpayers are already paying thousands every year for this family to eat and thousands to educate their children. It’s funny how you don’t account for that whatsoever in your statement. This country is extremely generous to the poor, so don’t sit there and act like this child is starving, the poor in this country are middle class in almost any other part of the world!

      • Dave

        It amazes me that your comment is dated on Dec. 24,2015. On the very day we celebrate the birth of the center of all Christian teaching. I pray that despite your overwhelming cost of paying taxes, bills, etc., you will somehow find a little compassion to realize that the act of feeding a hungry child is an extremely small gesture of giving on anyone’s part. Before your night is over, may your heart be opened to accept the imperfections of a messed up world and see that the tiniest act of love can be reflected on to others on a day we give thanks for God’s gift to mankind.

  • Daniel B

    I had to post, just to get some more info out there:

    This was a half day, on half days kids are not given hot lunches instead are given sack lunches to take home IF THEY WANT ONE. That means not every kid takes one home, so they don’t make one for every kid, they have to estimate how many lunches they will give out or they will end up throwing a ton of food out, and another “controversy” will ensue.

    In this case they ran out of sack lunches…there were none left to give.

    I don’t know if the lunch lady was “rude” to the kid or the kid is just a little sensitive. I know the lunches were not passed around the room, but the kids lined up to go get them. So I doubt it happened exactly as they are portraying it.

    I don’t think this deserves the full lynch mob that Fox 13 and this kids dad is trying to stir up. What it needs is a deep breath and move on.

    I live in the area and know some of the folks at the school, from what I am told the kid did not get in line with the rest of his class/grade when it was time for the lunches to hand out, if he did he would have gotten a lunch, instead he came later (I believe). Now I was not there, but people who were have said this.

    • Steve Lawlor

      I want everyone to know that I have a child in this school district. I have, more than once or twice, forgotten to put money in my child’s school account. I can tell you first hand that they have never denied my child lunch for having a negative balance. And, as our wonderful, hate mongering journalist have so tactfully left out of this story is the fact it was a half-day, no hot lunch day. The school did run out of sandwiches but every child was still offered fruit, vegetables, and drinks. This is a great school district that really cares about the kids. I highly doubt this went down in any way like the dad and FOX -SENSATIONALIZE EVERYTHING- news is portraying. Another fine example of these so-called journalists trying to get a story out before doing any fact checking whatsoever. And for all you you people attacking the school and the lunch lady, you should get your facts straight too before you go opening your pie hole as well.Stop believing something just because some dill-hole posted it on the internet. Get a brain and start thinking for yourselves. Finally, if it does come out that the lunch lady refused lunch to this kid, it is not school policy. She should indeed be fired for traumatizing the kids.

    • Disappointed Army Mom

      Daniel B, WRONG ANSWER! I don’t care when this child got in line! The fact that he went to get food and could not get any is ridiculous! I don’t care if it was a half day or a full day. There are meals that are supposed to be provided whether the child wants it or not. We don’t even treat our soldiers in the military like that but we should just take “A deep breath and move on” huh? I only hope that if you have children they are never in a similar situation. There is only one thing in this story that mattered, a child went hungry. If the school ran out of food then they are doing things wrong! In a case like this it is better to have too much that too little. If they have left over food then donate it to a local shelter! They are children and they depend on us as adults to take care of them. When we send our children to school we have to depend on others to make sure our children are taken care of. That is a hard thing for a parent to swallow, especially after hearing about situations like this one. I know for a fact that no one could take care of my child better than I can but I hope the people that I have to depend on will at least give it 110% try as I would for anyone else’s child!

    • Disappointed Army Mom

      Looking at the school’s website and looking at the school calendar there were no early release days in October. I see them in November but none to be found in October.

  • Leslie

    IF your child came home that hungry, feed him!!! It was a half day, they receive the sack lunches on their way home and he probably would not have had the time to eat until he got home anyway !! This guy is just looking for attention

  • Stuart

    This is incredibly irresponsible journalism. The article is full of inaccuracies and half-truths. I would really hope, and expect, q13 to check their facts and get both sides before they go to publish.
    The food service employee in question here is a 25 year veteran who treats/loves every child as if they are her own, and has never denied a child a meal due to a lack of money.
    What this article conveniently fails to mention is that until recently, Xavier was not on the free and reduced lunch program. He started the year off the program because his father, so quick to point the finger here, is not only so inept that he can’t provide his family with food, but also too irresponsible to fill out the proper paperwork.

  • L

    I am completely appalled and disgusted over the 7 year old denied a lunch. This is not just local news for you folks, this went national. I live over 2000 miles away and heard about this. I used to live in Washington, and I know that some members of school staff are horrible, I’ve dealt with it myself both as a student and also when my own kids were attending. Thank God they are grown, and I don’t have to deal with this issue myself. I feel for the parents that are dealing with this, and I can only imagine that this child isn’t the only one this happened to. My suggestion would be to FIRE HER. If a parent were to deny their child food and DHS got wind of it, I imagine that child would be taken from the parent. But it’s okay for a school to do it? Child abuse is child abuse, no matter its source. SHAME on you, Cascade View Elementary, may your school feel the repercussions of this for a long, long time. NEVER EVER should a child go hungry at school.

  • In The Know

    First of all, this should not even be given the media attention that it is getting. Second of all, the media needs to get their facts straight. One on-line article stated that Cascade View Elementary School is part of the Snoqualmie School District. This article states that it is part of the Snohomish County School District. There is no Snohomish County School District; it is Snohomish School District.
    Per Federal Regulations of the National School Lunch Program, a student’s eligibility status(Paid, Free or Reduced) is highly confidential. For the media to discuss this publicly is irresponsible.
    Why is this being making news a month after the fact? If this in fact did occur, why is nobody else speaking up?
    Parents are in fact responsible for monitoring an maintaining their own child’s lunch account. Any charges incurred prior to being approved for free meals do not get wiped out upon approval.
    Often times what actually happens in the lunchroom becomes a very different story by the time it gets home to parents.
    Snohomish School District apparently has a very generous charge policy allowing children to charge until they are $20 in the negative before being offered an emergency lunch. The USDA does not even require that districts allow charging, nor do they require that an emergency lunch be offered. In some cases, children will decline the emergency lunch when offered, only to go home and blame the lunch ladies, who do not make up Federal or District policies.
    When will it make the news that a customer at McDonald’s was denied a meal due to not having funds?
    Yes, I agree that the kids should not go without food. They are many times the ones that get the short end of the stick when parents fail to maintain their child’s lunch account.
    If, in fact that the “snarky” lunch lady that yet another article refers to what is being blast all over National & International news did, shame on her, but I am willing to bet a case of USDA highly processed, high sodium chicken nuggets sprinkled with a smattering of whole grain to make them “healthy”, that there are many misconstrued accusations being made.
    Lunch ladies work very hard and are often the political scapegoat to those that think they are better than them.
    For the record, I do not work for the Snohomish School District nor do I have children in the Snohomish School District.

  • mary

    “I couldn’t believe it happened. It happened to me as a child and I could still feel that hurt and I can only imagine what he went through,” says Eric.

    Its a 25 cent sack lunch, not a death. Time to move on.

  • Angry Child Nutrition worker

    Schools are not allowed to donate any food to shelters or community centers anymore. Thanks to the new rules set in place by the president’s wife. I work for a school in another state and we HATE the new rules and laws set in place concerning child nutrition. I am not part of this school or anything but our school even in a child was in the nurse or the office and missed lunch by 30 minutes we would always find something to feed the child!

    • josh jones

      why make up BS? The Congress sets the rules for school lunches. And there is no rule that forbids donation to food banks, and 2011 law specifically extends the Good Samaritan Act, which protects donors who give to food banks in good faith from liability, to schools and their cafeterias.

      Maybe you should tell your bosses to stop BS you, or you should stop BSing us. School cafeteria lunch policy is public record, and its really easy to look up and see what it says. Don’t try to come in and tell us something different than what is clearly published.

  • ❤random girl❤

    I totally agree bro! Childern need food to concentrate on their school work! Imagine you in class being hungry, not only will your stomach hurt really bad but you can’t stop thinking about food!! How can anyone concentrate like that! Plus your child needs proteins to build up strong cells and grow!

  • A Santana

    So unfortunate for this to happen to any child.
    This too, just happened to my child a few days in a row at Fredrickson Elm in Wa. I am absolutely livid and will make sure the necessary action is taken. My child is also on medication that she has to eat with. The three days in a row my child was denied, lunch she has came home with headaches and stomach pains. She was even denied a cutie and yelled at after telling the idiot lunch lady how hungry she was. Her lunch is also paid throughout the 2016 school year. There’s been so many incidents at this school including a stray bullet entering a classroom recently and incidents of my daughter being bullied and nothing being done. I will continue to advocate and fight on my daughter’s behalf!!!

  • thriftymix

    You can’t have a lunch said, no lunch lady ever.
    I can’t believe people even believe this. If you have a negative balance you get an emergency lunch. That’s it end of story. Unless the lunch lady was new and didn’t understand the concept, then this never happened. If so it might have made some sense to go to the school and politely talk to this lunch lady and find out what the real story was. As far as I can tell most lunch ladies love kids and want the best for them but for some reason everyone thinks they are out to starve your kids. I just don’t get it. I love my kids and the food I serve is not mine to make give or take away. I do what I’m told and what my district polices say to do. Not giving kids lunch? Ridiculous!

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