Kitchen Manager Fired for Giving Kids Free Lunches

Della Curry says law needs to change
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 3, 2015 8:18 AM CDT
Kitchen Manager Fired for Giving Kids Free Lunches
An unrelated school cafeteria worker serves up hamburger pizza on whole-wheat crust on Dec. 17, 2014, at Eastridge Elementary School in Lincoln, Neb.   (AP Photo/The Journal-Star, Eric Gregory)

"I had a first grader in front of me, crying, because she doesn't have enough money for lunch. Yes, I gave her lunch," says Della Curry—who got fired for the deed. Curry was the kitchen manager at Colorado's Dakota Valley Elementary School until Friday, and she tells CBS Denver she often helped students like that, giving them free food or paying for their meals herself. Their families "make too much money to qualify" for the official free lunch program (which requires a household income of about $31,000 or less) or reduced lunch program ($45,000), Curry explains, but they still "don't have enough money to eat." Officially, she says, such children are only supposed to be given a hamburger bun holding a single slice of cheese, plus a small container of milk.

Curry doesn't think that's enough food, but she acknowledges she knew what she was doing. "I'll own that I broke the law," she says. "The law needs to change. If me getting fired for it is one way that we can try to change this, I'll take it in a heartbeat." As for her former employer, the Cherry Creek School District wouldn't comment on Curry specifically, but it noted, "According to our practice, we provide hot meals to students the first three times they forget their lunch money and charge their parents' accounts. The fourth time, we provide a cheese sandwich and milk." Further, "The costs of our lunch program are not covered by the prices we charge." Curry tells the Denver Post that in the past school year, she probably handed out 20 hot lunches to hungry kids. (Click for another terrible school-lunch story.)

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