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9-Year-Old Boy Has Food Taken Off Of School Lunch Tray Over A $9 Debt

An Ohio area grandmother is calling for a policy change after her 9-year-old grandson had his lunch literally removed from his tray at school after the cashier noted that he had an outstanding debt owing of nine dollars.

Diane Bailey has temporary custody of her three grandsons and recently enrolled them in a local school and in the free and reduced lunch program. She says that on August 30, which also happened to be her grandson Jefferson Sharpnack's 9th birthday, Jefferson came home very upset, explaining that his lunch was removed from his tray at school.

"He gets off the bus and he says, 'Grandma! Worst birthday ever!' And I asked him what happened and he proceeded to tell me he wasn't allowed to pass out a snack which is a new policy I understand that. Then he says they took his lunch from his tray and gave him a piece of cheese and bread," Bailey told Fox News 8.

Young Jefferson told WSLS exactly what happened to him at school on his birthday. “I got my cheesy breadsticks and put in my number,” Jefferson said, “And when I was going to check out, the lunch lady didn’t say anything, took away my cheesy breadsticks and sauce, put them over there, and took out bread on cheese from the fridge and put it on my tray.”

Jefferson then brought a note home explaining that his lunch account was $9 in debt. Bailey contacted the school that explained that the free and reduced lunch paperwork had not yet been finalized.

“In my mind, he didn’t owe anything. I owed the money, the parents, the school district,” Bailey said. “And my other question is, if they take the food off of your tray, they have to throw it away. You would take the food off a tray and you can’t reserve it? You’re going to throw it away and not feed the child? That doesn’t make sense to me.”

Bailey was hoping for a policy change at her grandson's school in hopes that something like this would never happen again, and it seems like that's exactly what has happened. Superintendent Jeff Miller released a statement to Fox News 8 confirming that children will always receive a standard school lunch no matter what their account balance.

"We are sensitive to the financial hardship families incur and challenges presented due to the cost of school breakfast and lunches," the statement read. "Our staff, in coordination with Family Support Specialists, will continue to work with families to ensure they have access to all available resources to assist with purchasing school meals."

Bailey was very pleased with the change. "This was the perfect solution, I thank Green schools for responding so quickly," she said.

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