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Students with no lunch credit told to throw school lunches away


ATTLEBORO, Mass. ( -- Students at Robert J. Coelho Middle School in Attleboro were told to throw their school lunches away if they didn't have lunch credit.

School officials told FOX 25 that employees of the school lunch vendor, Whitsons School Nutrition, denied lunches to students with outstanding balances or forced them to throw their lunches away over the last two weeks.

One fifth grader tells FOX 25 she was told to throw out her lunch before she could even take a bite.

"They told me to throw it away because I didn't have enough money in my account," says Victoria Greaves.

Greaves' father, John, said he has never had an issue, but this incident was enough to make him angry.

Coelho Middle School Principal Andy Boles told FOX 25 that he became aware of the situation at about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday after an angry parent contacted him. He immediately launched an investigation.

Boles said that Whitsons told him about deficient accounts at the beginning of the year and offered to pass along a statement to parents. Boles said the company never gave him the statement.

The principal also said the school his taking corrective action and that he has met with at least 15 upset students, as well as the cafeteria workers responsible.

"They apologized for their actions," says Boles of the cafeteria workers. "Their intent was not to humiliate or upset the students, which I stated to them they had done."

In a statement to FOX 25, Whitsons said that they regret how their employees handled the situation.

"We regret that these students were denied meals and agree that this situation should have been handled differently," said Whitsons. "We apologize to the students and the community for this incident and are conducting a full investigation."

Boles said it was "unacceptable" that any student go without a lunch.

Whitsons said they are working on a policy to handle future unpaid debt and said that no child will go without a meal in the meantime, regardless of outstanding balances.

The superintendent tells FOX 25 she has placed the on-site director on administrative leave as the investigation continues.