NEA member Marcie Villanueva was deeply troubled when she witnessed a cashier take a child’s lunch, throw it away, and replace it with a cheese sandwich, an apple, and milk. “I saw that look of distress come over that child’s face, and the cashier’s face said she was uneasy as well,” says Villanueva. But the employee had to follow the district policy: If a child’s meal account balance was $10 or more in debt, the meal had to be thrown out and replaced, even though the price of the regular lunch was still added to the child’s debt.
Villanueva delivered a straightforward message at a congressional briefing last week in the House: We can do better. Now the lead food service worker at Harlan Elementary School in Wilmington, Delaware, she started working in the field five years ago. Villaneuva urged legislators to take action to end lunch shaming, prevent students from going hungry, and keep school cafeterias from operating in the red. Congress can also help food service workers get access to the training they need.
Urge your senators and representative to cosponsor the Improving Training for Food Service Workers Act.