Rigby Lunch Incident Stirs Emotions

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Updated: 2/17 7:23 pm

An incident in a school lunch line is bringing a lot of
attention to an Upper Valley community. Last week, a middle school student in
Rigby was brought to tears after an administrator with the school lunch program
took her food and tossed it in the trash.

Julia Stephenson says she was patiently waiting for her turn
to pay for lunch when things took a turn for a student in front of her.

“She was typing in her number so that she could purchase her
lunch,” said Julia Stephenson. “And so she entered it and the she started
walking away. Then the lunch lady said her name and then she turned around and
then she took the lunch away from her and threw it in the trash and said you
can’t have lunch today.”

Mortified, the girl then exited the lunchroom. That’s when Julia
sat her lunch down with some friends and went looking for her.

“I went to the library and I found her in a corner and she
was about ready to cry,” said Julia.

At this point Julia was faced with a challenge. The school
lunch policy says you cannot share food but Julia didn’t want this girl to go
hungry. After some coaxing, the two of them returned to the lunchroom keeping a
watchful eye so they wouldn’t get caught.

Later that day she told her mom what had happened.

“I instantly started to cry,” said Janet Stephenson. “I was
crying because I was proud of her and because I was broken hearted for the girl
and because I was mad.”

This anger turned into a social media post and then it went
viral.

“The next day I woke up and she was like ‘150 shares’ and
then it just blew up,” said Julia.

At last check, her post had been shared 153 times just from
her page. But more importantly, others were starting to get involved to try and
prevent this from happening again.

“The Rigby Lions Club reached out and said we would like to
collaborate with you to create an emergency lunch fund but with the caveat that
we talk to the administration, the school board, to find out what are the
policies and procedures when a school lunch account is delinquent,” said Janet.

We attempted to contact the school board but their offices
were closed for the holiday. However, Janet says they have already instituted
some changes.

“Thursday, Rigby Middle School changed their procedure for
lunch,” said Janet. “Where they would go through the entire line, get their
food, and then go pay, for it; they’ve change the whole process so that the
paying happens up front. So she wouldn’t have already had her tray and then
have the lunch thrown in the garbage. That won’t happen anymore.”

Janet says the next scheduled school board meeting is March
12th. That’s when she hopes that the Lions Club and the district can
come together to create an emergency lunch fund account.  



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BKtkr - 2/20/2014 7:38 AM
0 Votes
With all the millions of dollars wasted by the Govt, why can't they fund lunch for all kids? Instead they fund it for some, not all, based on income/ethnicity/ etc... The money Obama wasted on his buddies at Solyndra or paid Michelle's friend to build a website that doesn't work could have fed every student in the US.

chelle - 2/20/2014 5:06 AM
1 Vote
So the school officials are making it Pay First, Eat if you have enough money, now....the cynical side of me says this is not about helping the children, its so the school doesn't lose the cost of the meal they prepared when they take it from children and throw it away. This whole situation makes me damn ashamed of Idaho and the people who run our school districts. Didn't they learn anything from the Utah debacle that happened recently??? Just wow! How does the behavior of a school employee throwing away a lunch teach this child anything? And also, where was the parent who should have provided lunch money for their child? There are free lunch programs in every school if you can't afford to buy your kids lunch.

mkr0728 - 2/19/2014 11:27 PM
0 Votes
I honestly don't understand how they think that throwing it away was the best way. So they wasted a lunch and a little girl went hungry. I'm embarrassed for them. This is despicable behavior from people our kids are supposed to trust!

kimberlymc - 2/19/2014 10:14 AM
0 Votes
lloveidaho, I am wondering if you read my post? I said I am FROM Idaho living in California. I grew up in Swan Valley. I am upset because I expect more from Idaho.

Iloveidaho - 2/19/2014 9:44 AM
0 Votes
Kimberlymc-- then go back to California because you miss it so much..... don't come to our state and complain. Why did you move to Idaho? Probably because it is better than California.... less traffic and pollution and crime, lower cost of living...... go back where you came from

Lockeyed1996 - 2/19/2014 4:29 AM
1 Vote
I am not a Rigby parent, but I am confused why this happens at all. My children would get lunch every day, even if they didn't have lunch money. It changes in high school but there is always a teacher willing to give a child a few bucks for lunch if they need it. NO CHILD SHOULD EVER GO HUNGRY IN OUR SCHOOLS REGARDLESS OF THEIR FINANCIAL SITUATION!!!! Everyone has a bump in the road or overlooks something. The school gets enough money from state and federal funding to float these kids lunch money for a few days or even weeks if they need it. Let me ask a question, does this school have sports programs and extra-circular activities? If so, they are not in a situation where they are so strapped for money that any child should go hungry.

Laura96756 - 2/19/2014 3:31 AM
0 Votes
Another thing if there is an issue with funds on a child's account isn't the school suppose to notify the parents? What if the parents are unaware of the lack of funds. Children go to school to learn and grow as active members of society. They go to learn the tools need to get jobs so they can pay their bills. Children don't go to school to pay bills the parents pay them. So treating a child for an unpaid bill is not their fault it starts with the school for lack of notification to the parents! I really hope they make a change!

Laura96756 - 2/19/2014 3:31 AM
1 Vote
Another thing if there is an issue with funds on a child's account isn't the school suppose to notify the parents? What if the parents are unaware of the lack of funds. Children go to school to learn and grow as active members of society. They go to learn the tools need to get jobs so they can pay their bills. Children don't go to school to pay bills the parents pay them. So treating a child for an unpaid bill is not their fault it starts with the school for lack of notification to the parents! I really hope they make a change!

Laura96756 - 2/19/2014 3:22 AM
2 Votes
Ririe school had lunch programs for people who couldn't afford the lunches. What happened to those and why doesn't rigby honor it? It's paid by the state of Idaho for better nutrition for children. What are tax dollars going towards. Maybe they should make cuts on prisoners 3 meals a day for free and start feeding the youth!!! Changing the order of paying first does not in any way help a child that has to go without lunch all day. This is absurd. Where is the compassion in these adults that are support to be molding our younger generations into good people??!! This only shows children that being cruel and starvation is acceptable! Another thing to the employee who threw away the food did that worker have to pay for it? If not isn't that a crime of theft?

kimberlymc - 2/19/2014 2:04 AM
1 Vote
The school districts changes were pay first so if you are deliquent on your lunch card, you go away hungry, and not shamed and hungry? So now students just quietly starve. I am from Idaho, living in California. I have missed my home state. I have missed the humanity, ethics, the sense of community, etc. It looks like I have not been missing much. If I were this "administrator" I would have either been fired due to the refusal of upholding what is an inhumane, unethical policy, or I would have dug into my own pockets. Shame on you!!! You should NOT be working in any environment that concerns children! Do prisoners receive free lunch?
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