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September 21, 2016

Pennsylvania school worker quits job over 'sickening' lunch policy

On Facebook, former cafeteria employee says humiliating rule puts profits over people

Schools Children
092116_StacyKoltiska Source/Facebook

Stacy Koltiska.

A cafeteria worker at a western Pennsylvania elementary school quit her job last week in protest of a "sickening" policy that denies hot meals to students whose parents are behind more than $25 on their meal balance.

Wylandville Elementary School, part of the Canon-McMillan School District in Canonsburg, this year adopted Rule 808.1 after the school tabbed up a backlog from more than 300 families, Superintendant Matthew Daniels told CBS Pittsburgh. Debt owed to the school district fluctuated between $60,000 and $100,000 annually.

Parents were notified of the new policy in a letter that went out in August before the first day of school. Since state law requires that children in grades K-6 be given a lunch, those whose parents are in debt are given a cold sandwich, fruit and milk. Students in grades 7-12 receive no school lunch at all.

By last Friday — days before cafeteria worker Stacy Koltisca resigned — there were fewer than 70 families remaining who hadn't settled their balances. Daniels said the district is still owed about $20,000.

In a lengthy post on Facebook, Koltisca explained her decision to quit and outlined why the policy's effects went far beyond familiar rhetoric surrounding welfare and the taxpaying families who arguably took advantage of the district's past leniency.

[What you] don't know is that they are being given One Piece of Cheese on Bread. This isn't even being toasted. Yet they are still being charged the FULL PRICE of a HOT LUNCH that is being [DENIED] to them. The first week of school on Friday, I had to take a little first grade boys chicken and give him this 'cheese sandwich'. I will never forget the look on his face and then his eyes welled up with tears."

Koltisca evidently quit because she witnessed the humiliation of the policy and objected to it firmly on grounds that schools throw away excess food on a daily basis.

"Once again, it comes down to Profits Over People but this time the People are Our Children," Koltisca wrote. "If you are as outraged at this disgusting policy, please take a minute and email Michael W. Daniels, Superintendent of Schools [and] Joni Mansmann, Director of Business and Finance."