The following letter was received from Margie Hockenberry, an involved parent of a Havre de Grace Middle School student:
I am writing to express my disgust with a supposed HCPS new lunch policy regarding students whose lunch accounts go into the “negative”.
Apparently, when a middle or high school students lunch account goes into the negative, they can be refused lunch. According to food and nutrition administration at HdGMS [Havre de Grace Middle School] this is a new policy from Harford County’s Food and Nutrition Services and Superintendent. Below is a story a dear friend that brought this to my attention.
My neighbor’s son attends Havre de Grace Middle. He informed his mother that his account was negative by $4 and he needed money. As most of us parents, she is busy. She has a daughter to run to dance, swimming and gymnastics, as well as son involved in sports. You know how it gets: the evening gets away from you and you sometimes forget things that are important like replenishing lunch money. (Not to mention her father was diagnosed with leukemia the day her son is telling her he needs money…that is just an additional issue).Her son goes to lunch at school the next day and goes to lunch. He explains his mother forgot to give him money. The cashier informs him he gets NOTHING. Nothing. Not a water. Not a measly peanut butter sandwich. Nothing. The child goes from eating breakfast at 7am until eating nothing at 3:15. He comes home and tells her of his rough day and issue at school. She calls the school and one of the secretaries informs her “it is in the student handbook and is new this year…he can be refused lunch”. I could not find this in my own child’s handbook, which I reviewed after hearing this nor could I find the supposed policy on the HCPS website. Not an apology. Not an alternative solution on how the child could have obtained food or called home…nothing. My neighbor thinks about it and gets more upset. She calls the school back and speaks with an administrator who luckily is more pleasant about the situation than the former individuals. She apologizes to my friend and says he should have been offered something to eat. She states it common for the cashier to tell the student to go to the office and tell the administrator, who will in turn call the parent and let them know the account is negative and to send money in.
Today, the day after this “issue”, my neighbor calls the Food and Nutrition Services and speaks to “Debbie” who explains that my neighbor is not a responsible parent and is to blame for letting her son’s account go into the negative. Wow….customer service.
This really bothers me since as a new parent in the middle school system, these new changes were not talked about at back to school nights or jump start for parents. So how are we supposed to hear about them?
If they can call us about listening to our president speak or not don’t you think a call to explain the new policy is also in order? What about the emphasis on school performance and eating well? Maybe if it was MSA testing week, he would have gotten something…
An involved Parent of a HDGMS student