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Principal says school shouldn't have denied lunch

DOWAGIAC, Mich. -- A Dowagiac High School student's lunch was taken away from him because he had an outstanding balance of less than $5 on his account. The teen's mother paid off all the outstanding balances so no student will go hungry. We talked to the principal of the school about what happened.



Principal Pieter Hoekstra said this type of situation is rare. He says even when students have unpaid balances, they can still get lunch.


Dominic Gant says his lunch was taken away from him on Friday.


"It was really embarrassing. Especially in front of the whole lunchroom," said Gant.



We asked the principal about what happened.



"There's no reason why a student should ever go without lunch, even if they have overdrawn their account. They can seek out one of the adults in the lunchroom and ask for permission to charge for another day," said Hoekstra.



Hoekstra said about once a week, a student overdraws their account and is given permission to charge for another day.



"We communicate regularly with parents. We send letters home on a regular basis and the directors of the lunch program have also made phone calls," said Hoekstra.



As the school year winds down the principal said it's even more important for those accounts to be paid so that the school isn't left with an outstanding balance of its own.



A private contractor runs the lunch program, so there isn't much flexibility.



While no student should ever be denied lunch, Hoekstra said he needs all of the parents to do their jobs too.



"It's the parent's responsibility to make sure there are funds in the account if they're not on free and reduced lunch,' aid Hoekstra.



Hoekstra said they are working to close the gap on funds before the year is over, but if a student asks an adult, they will not be denied lunch.

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