School denies her son lunch, she retaliates by paying off the remaining balances of all the students

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(CNN) MICHIGAN -A Dowagiac student says he was humiliated when school officials took away his lunch because there wasn’t enough money in his account. After his mom heard what happened, she took matters into her own hands.


“It was really embarrassing, especially in front of the whole class,” said Dominic Gant, a junior at Dowagiac Union High School.


On Friday, Dominic was served his normal cafeteria lunch, but just as soon as he was served, his lunch was taken away.


Dominic had an outstanding balance of less than $5 in his lunch account. His high school, like many other schools, has a policy that denies a hot lunch, and sometimes any lunch, to students who can’t pay.

“I was appalled that he was denied lunch and his lunch was taken out of his hands over $5,” said Amanda Keown, Dominic’s mom.


She was so upset her son was sent home hungry, she immediately contacted the school. They told her the balance doesn’t matter, even if it’s a small amount.


“She asked me where is the cutoff, where do you draw the line with the charges, when do you say no more? And I said there shouldn’t be a line,” says Keown.


So she took matters into her own hands. She didn’t want to see another student be sent home hungry, so she paid off every student’s outstanding balance in the entire high school.


“I realize I didn’t have to do that but I don’t want another kid going through what my son went through,” said Keown.



  • Ryan

    I have been on the same end as him. My high school didn't accept cash at the registers either, so if your forgot to put money in your account that morning, you were either denied, or sent with a PB&J, even if you had the money to put in right there. Because it wasn't in their hands before lunch… I understand school lunches aren't cheap anymore, but if there is one thing from Michelle Obama's campaign to take to heart isn't it that all students deserve a good, healthy lunch (Though for cafeteria food… they may need to remove the term healthy)? What happened to the thought of what if this is this childs ONLY meal of the day…

    • Kerri

      That's the problem with all schools (except one that I know of and love) – they are all about "us, us, us" — we want to talk about generations changing, kids out of control, and all sorts of other issues about family, kids, and communities but when do schools become the focus of the greed and conflict they're causing. As you said, no – school lunches are not cheap and I can see if he was a few lunches behind and hasn't paid – then his parent(s) would be aware that it was their fault for not filling his account but $5 or less??? I'm not sure how much school lunches are today but I'm sure $5 would have covered something to eat – then give his parents a day or two to cover it…I know a lot of schools send home notices but some email them (when not everyone checks their emails daily – or even have access to the computer) or they wait until the last minute to send home notices…but none of this really matters because it's pathetic!!! My oldest is done next year and my youngest is 13 but you can bet that even when they are both done with school, stuff like this will still tick me off – did they even give someone an opportunity to bring him in a lunch? I don't care if he has to eat late, it's better than nothing at all — wasn't it the schools preaching a long time ago that learn better on a full stomach…now all they preach is "money, money, money" — my kids do not go to their local school – at first it was because they couldn't now its because you couldn't pay me enough to send them back there!!! I though school was slacking when I was in school 20+ years ago…but I'd do anything to get these kids the respect we had as students because all these new "thoughts," "plans," "amendments," or whatever you want to call them – are downright disgraceful for our kids!!! Like I said, I have respect for only ONE school system – and it's not even a public school!!!

  • Kerri

    Okay but the school didn't learn anything from this…I've said this before and I will say it again – what kind of person takes away someone's lunch??? So you would rather throw it away (Because legally you cannot serve that lunch to anyone now) – so you would rather throw it away than give it to one of your students!!! Gotta love schools, they're teaching our kids to be all about money and no heart!!! Glad I'm not these kids and I'm glad I teach my kids the real value at home!!! And these schools wonder why we have angry kids? well maybe because we have selfish schools!!! And before you say anything, my kids do not go without lunch so that's not why I am saying this but I think it takes a cold person to do this let alone a school staff where these kids are required to be for 6 hours…I commend this mom for paying for everyone's lunch and I get why but she let this school off too easy if this is how she left it! Her child is old enough to go until 2, 3, or 4 o'clock until he gets home but does that mean he should??? OF COURSE NOT!!! The best thing about her paying off their lunches is at least they cannot make fun of him now and it takes the humiliation level down a bit (At least I HOPE so) but the humiliation for the school – here's to hoping it lingers for a very long time!!!!! School is suppose to benefit our kids, not tear them down and belittle them!!!

    • Holly

      He didn't HAVE $5, he already OWED a little less than $5… the school had already let him slide on at least one lunch, probably two. It's not like him owing for his lunches was a surprise. One of several things happened here: He forgot to tell his mom his balance was used up, he used it up faster by buying extra items like an extra milk or ice cream each day or something, she planned the amount in his account poorly, or she gave him money & he forgot to deposit it with the school. I don't believe kids should be sent home hungry, but I don't believe the school should continue to pay for his lunches, either. I do, however, think the cutoff point should be something slightly more substantial, like $10, which would be close to a week's worth of lunches. $5 balance should be a warning note sent home with the student, $10 is cutoff.

  • Ed L

    I would like to ask the school officials, everywhere, just what are you teaching our students when you do something like this?

  • MyTakeOnIt

    Should be a text message system to urgently remind both the parents and students prior to the start of school for that day that the account is exhausted and then allow for electronic transfer of funds from the cell.

  • Tammy S.

    They do the same thing at the High School my kids attend. If a student has a negative $5.00 balance, they cannot have a lunch. Everyone is so up in arms over this issues, but my question is when does it become the parent's and the student's responsibility? He was a junior in high school. I have a junior and a freshman in high school. If they know their account is getting low they tell me. I also get a text and an email telling me. I am sure if he would have needed gas money for his car or to go out with his friends, he would have asked for money. Could you go to a restaurant and eat without paying for it? If she had enough money to pay off all of the balances why didn't her own child have money in his account.

    • Ryan

      The issue today, is that school lunch for high-school kids EASILY hits $5.00 per day… So really that is One day over what he had money in his account for. When I was in high-school I worked sophomore through graduation. My mom would send 20 in every few weeks when I would ask… but I made it a point not to ask often BECAUSE I worked, and could afford it on my own. If you look at the meals being authorized to be served by Michelle Obama, their prices are outrageous. Parents need to be more active in the school saying that they want healthy, and affordable… not healthy, unaffordable, and portioned for a toddler… Yes he should have known his balance… but at the same time there usually isn't a display that is visible for the students to see how much is in their account until the cafeteria shows it to them when they're negative…. All they do is enter their pin into the system and the person ringing the kids up just moves them along…

  • amy

    All i can think is what would've been done if the kids family was on welfare …. anyone care to guess?

  • steve

    my son has been there also.i tried to make sure there was enough every week .he been denied lunch.these school officals are such a- hole now days with no common sense.

Comments are closed.

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