Target: Dickinson Independent School District (ISD) Superintendent Vicki Mims
Goal: Make sure that no child goes hungry, by changing a policy disallowing students from receiving meals on credit.
Recently, officials at Barber Middle School in Dickinson, Texas threw out the breakfast of a student whose account was short the thirty cents he needed to pay for it. The sixth grader called his mother, Jennifer Castilleja, to come in and add more money to the account he uses to buy his school meals, which he receives at the reduced price of thirty cents. However, school officials told her that they could not give him the meal on credit, even though she was on her way to the school to pay for it, and the breakfast was thrown in the trash and the boy sent to class. Castilleja commented to local news KTRK, “There were kids all around him. I think he may have been a little embarrassed and upset and, of course, hungry.”
Officials from the school district told KTRK: “Dickinson ISD’s procedure is that we do not allow student charges for breakfast. Many school districts follow this same procedure. Students get verbal warnings to let parents know once the account starts getting low. Written warnings are sent home to parents before money runs out.” Castilleja allowed that the incident was the fault of her or her son for not heeding or remembering the warnings, but argued that there still should be a procedure in place so that children do not go to class hungry due to honest mistakes. Hunger in schools is becoming a growing problem, as three-quarters of American teachers can confirm that students regularly come to school hungry, and one-half attest that hunger is a serious problem in their classrooms. Some districts in areas where children are especially suffering are implementing a “Community Eligibility Option” to waive student meal fees, including Dallas, Boston, Detroit, Atlanta, Chicago, and parts of New York City.
By signing this petition, you are calling on Dickinson ISD Superintendent Mims to apologize to Jennifer Castilleja and her son for the fact that he was sent to class hungry over thirty cents. You are urging Superintendent Mims to acknowledge the problem of waste in our schools and hunger in our classrooms by implementing a “Community Eligibility Option” in Dickinson schools.
Dear Superintendent Mims,
I am highly disappointed by a recent incident at Barber Middle School, in which a sixth-grade student’s breakfast was thrown away due to a shortage in his account of thirty cents. This not only represents an embarrassing and inconvenient incident for the child and his mother, who had to come to school and provide him breakfast and then reload his account; this also represents an outrageous waste of resources that could be used to feed hungry students.
I urge you to join school districts like Dallas, Boston, Detroit, and Atlanta in implementing a “Community Eligibility Option” to waive all student meal fees and therefore prevent hunger in our classrooms. At the very least, allowing students to acquire their meals on credit will prevent a similar situation from occurring with other students, who may not have parents who are able to come in the middle of the school day to provide a meal and replenish their account. This incident occurred as a result of an honest mistake, and that should never prevent a child from acquiring the nutrition they need to learn.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: USDA via Flickr