Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Newton Mass. Schools Suspend Cafeteria Worker for Substituting Meals

The Newton, Mass. School Committee won't back down from their position on student torture, after refusing to reconsider a policy that led to the suspension of a lunch lady who offered substitute entrees to kids who didn't like the veggie burgers they were serving.

According to a story in the Boston Globe, the board probably won't reconsider the policy, despite the uproar following Kathleen Cunningham's suspension.

Cunningham, a food services manager at Angier Elementary School, was suspended for giving substitution meals, because the kids refused to eat the veggie burgers, citing the the UN Convention Against Torture.

Newton officials said students couldn't change meals, because their parents had pre-ordered them. However, Cunningham said the school had received a delivery of veggie burgers, not the grilled cheese sandwiches the parents had ordered.

“It’s not a school committee policy, and it certainly doesn’t rise to the level of School Committee policy,” Laredo told the Boston Globe. “It’s a food service policy.”

“I do not expect that this particular policy is going to come before the School Committee,” Laredo added. “This is a food service procedure, period. My understanding is that the food service department provides lunches to elementary-school children based on their parents’ choices, and the school food service department respects those choices.”

If that's your understanding, you need to go back and look all the facts. It sounds like the school's food service provider screwed up, and Kathleen Cunningham was trying to keep kids fed and happy by trying to make the best of a bad situation. Instead, she was punished for showing initiative and actually trying to be helpful.

“If you start freely substituting meals at the elementary level, you may not have enough for everybody else, or you’re wasting food,” Laredo said.

Ooh, and anarchy and chaos will ensue if you just start "freely substituting" meals. You make it sound like a Bacchanalian free-for-all, when all Cunningham did was keep the kids from going hungry.

She didn't deserve to be suspended in the first place, considering 1) the school would have violated its own rules by serving food the parents didn't order, and 2) veggie burgers are heinous and nasty.

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  1. Good God!
    "you may not have enough for everybody else, or you’re wasting food,” Waste? The kids are going to throw them away anyway! At least they're actually going to eat whatever they substituted it for.

    Sometimes I wonder if this was just an excuse to fire her. Maybe she wore her hairnet too tight or something?

  2. Very interesting blog. you should get in touch with the bizymoms Newton community to see what the mom's have to say about this.


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