Student denied lunch, mom pays for all unpaid lunches

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Dowagiac, MI (WBND) — A Dowagiac student says 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.

On 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.

So she took matters into her own hands. She didn’t want to see another student be sent home hungry, so she paid 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.

Read more: Principal says school shouldn’t have denied lunch

By Marissa Kerby


  • jad

    Must take a very cold detached heartless compassion-less person (who does not belong in a school job in the first place) to go up to a kid and take his meal away. Sad that in the richest country on the planet this has to happen. By the way, what happened to the food?..Because of health laws they can’t serve it to anyone else…they probably trashed in right in front of everyone. SHAME ON THAT SCHOOL AND ANY SCHOOL THAT DOES THIS! They probably trash enough leftover food everyday to feed 40 or 50 students anyway. The school district needs to look into this awful policy. Just awful!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Sophie Biggens

    Apparently The boy was singled out, as the the principal said no student will go without lunch.. He said the student should have talked to one of the adults.. a further embarrassment.. What should have happened is the person taking away the lunch, should have talked to one of the adults,mention of the problem to to the student should have been in private, and a phone call or letter sent to his parents..

  • rei wagner

    Don’t they realize that sometimes us parents forget to put money in the lunch accounts? I have forgotten to add money to my son’s before and they were in the negative. That is ridiculous for that teacher to do that. They need to start sending letters home so us parents know when to add more money.

  • ashley

    They do the same at Lewis and Clark elementary in wood river I actually seen a 1st grader come outta school in tears because her stomach hurt so bad.she was suppose to eat breakfast and lunch at school and got denied both that day I felt so bad for that little girl.

  • TJ

    That’s unfortunate. I’ve owed $20 before and the officials sent me on my way with my lunch. They only deny extras when you owe.

  • Shawn Thompson

    Schools are forced to do this policy. The state sends through inspectors multiple times per year and this is part of the policy. Maybe the news should look into full polices.

    • Carrie

      Bull. School meal programs are Federally and State supported. Schools are supposed to be not for profit but many are through their food programs…. serving cheap unhealthy food for ridiculous prices.

      • JT Bates

        It is very apparent the your don’t know what you are talking about. School cafeteria are not funded by any government agency. School’s cafeteria’s are not for profit. The Federal requirement for what a child is served is unbelievably complicated. We do get reimbursements from the USDA for meals served depending on a child meal statue. Last two years we have run a deficit of 80,000 to 150,000 dollars. Guess who pays for this very tax payer in our district.

        When did school lunches become an entitlement? When did feeding your child become the responsibility of the government? When I was in school we were a poor family, but my mother fixed me lunch everyday and a thermos of milk.

    • ange

      Hazelwood West high (middle school at that time too) would always give us the option of having bologna or peanut butter sandwhich in case we didn’t have any. In which any and all schools should do if you don’t have enough that day, so don’t say the news should look more into it, these schools need to get a heart, and get one soon. Next thing you know it will be preschool kids like my little brother and then someone would have to pay.

  • thekulture

    The student was a junior. Keep track of your balance and tell mom. When I failed to do so I either didn’t eat or used social skills to ask a friend.
    There should be a line. If you don’t have money on your account and you don’t get free/reduced lunch you don’t eat. That is a life lesson.

  • dave

    We send Billions of dollars to fed people all over the world but we take the tray out of the hands of a child and throw it away right in front of them for as little as 30 cents.

  • Cassie

    Stupid school! We get alerted if we are low. If they already gave him the lunch, its the schools fault. They should have let him eat it but send home and email his parents a note to replenish his account. Shame on that school!

  • Tam E

    My 78 year old mother in law works at a grade school cafeteria because she doesn’t want to sit at home retired and she loves the kids. I know she spends more than what she makes so this doesn’t happen at her school. She has also been know to buy a kid an ice cream or special treat if they look like they need a little attention.

  • cheryl

    The kid has to ask for a charge???? The kids shouldn’t have to ask for anything. Or the principle needs to check to see if the family can afford it. Maybe they can’t. It’s not the kids fault, they shouldn’t suffer.

  • bob

    God forbid anyone having to have personal responsibility. It’s just so hard to keep up with bills like this. Ridiculous.

  • Terri

    Way too many times I have seen that the breakfast and lunch served at school is the only meals that some kids get!!! As usual no common sense.

  • Amy

    The kid had a few dollars in his lunch account. Sounds like not enough to cover the meal. So what does this school do, throws it out instead of letting the kid get the food he needed. They dumped it in the garbage and wasted the food instead of sending a note home that says “Hey, your account is in the red please pay by this date.” Absolutely no common sense anymore!!

  • Daniel Kohl

    So, we feed criminals in prison (murderers, rapists, pedophiles, drug dealers,…criminals) three (3), not just one (1), but three (3) hot meals a day, with the potential of doing that for 60 plus years free of charge (not to mention if they are behaving enough to have a “job” in prison they make $7 dollars a day). And we can’t even pay for one child’s meal for twelve (12) maybe thirteen (13) years. Is it too much to ask that to pay for breakfast and lunch for our CHILDREN nine (9) months out of the year. Also, excuse the poor children who have to go to summer school for another six (6) weeks and have to pay for their own as well. We need to get our priorities in line and maybe think of our future generations.

  • Kay

    If I were a teacher or staff when any of those incidents happened I would have took money out of my own pocket to help them out. This is a sick world we live in poor kids

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