KENT, Wash., June 11 (UPI) -- A Washington cafeteria worker denied a middle school student lunch because he was 26 cents short of paying for the 40-cent meal.
The Mill Creek Middle School worker took the lunch back from the boy after discovering he couldn't pay for it and tossed it in the trash. The boy was ashamed after he was unable to get a lunch for two days in a row and told his dad.
"My first instinct was to get a huge jar of pennies, and get it ready," the boy's father, Jimmie Keys, told KOMO. "I was going to take it down to the school and throw it on 'em."
The school district dishes up about 19,000 meals a day to 28,000 students. District policy states that children who cannot pay for a lunch should receive a free substitute item like yogurt or cereal.
"I just have to say sorry to this student, sorry to the parents," said district spokesperson Chris Loftis. "We made a mistake, we need to fix it, we're sorry."
According to Loftis, the worker was simply trying to stick by a district initiative to get parents to pay outstanding meal account debts before the end of the school year.
"To have it hit so close to home was very disappointing in the least," Keys said. "Somebody had to stand up for my kid and for everybody's kid."