Teacher Forces 5-Year-Old to Eat Out of Garbage

Say What!? 136

garbageKids go to school and end up coming home with all kinds of stories. Thankfully, so far, my kids just talk about the pretzels they eat. Strange, yes, but at least they aren't beating up teachers or being forced to eat bagels out of the garbage. Yet.

Kandice Harris, however, got quite an earful from her 5-year-old daughter Ke’Nya. The kindergartner told her mom that her teacher at Deerfield Township Elementary School in New Jersey forced her to eat a bagel from the trash. Harris has filed a report with the police and I don't blame her. No child should be forced to eat anything ... especially something from the garbage. But Harris thinks something more is going on.

She believes race may have been a factor. She said, "We’re a low-income black family. Most of the people who attend the school are white." Ke'Nya's lunch is subsidized and therefore free.

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"She’s very upset and humiliated," Harris told the South Jersey Times. "Ke’Nya said she didn’t like the bagel, so she threw it away. She said her teacher then took the bagel out of the trash and told her she had to eat it in front of all the kids."

Forced eating in front of her peers? Potentially race/economic status related? This story just got even worse. I feel terrible for the child.

We do know this much is true. Kandice went to the school’s superintendent first and the teacher confirmed the incident. Harris alleges that the teacher refused to apologize until she threatened a police report and going public with the story. It was also reported that there was only paper in the trash can, but I still feel if the child didn't want to eat it, no one should force her.

The police feel it's a school matter, not a criminal one. The school is looking into the incident more thoroughly. Harris hired a lawyer and the state Division of Child Protection and Permanency has been made aware of the case. But the damage is done. Ke'Nya was humiliated in front of her classmates -- that is wrong and the teacher should have known better.

What do you think of this story? Do you think more action needs to be taken against the teacher?


Image via juliejordanscott/Flickr

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nonmember avatar ThisGirl

While I think the teacher was way out of line in the way that it was handled, this girl is on a subsidized lunch program as in other people pay for it. If she didn't like what was being served to her she should have just told her teacher but to throw something away that is being paid for by other people is just wasteful in my opinion. Sometimes kids can be really picky eaters but they have to learn that everything has a price, your not paying for it so don't waste it. Or bring your own lunch of something that you do like to eat. Probably going to offend people but whatever.

nonmember avatar Valerie

That's not the teacher's place (or ANYONE'S place) to force feed a child. The teacher should be punished for forcing the child to eat (the word force was in bold at least twice) and embarrassing her in front of her peers, already as a minority in the school.

curio... curious1145

Okay,the title and the picture are exaggerations. What a surprise! She was not made to eat out of the garbage as in "dumpster-dive" or something. And it wasn't a big,germy garbage can like the one in the picture. It was her own bagel that she just threw out,and the only other thing in the garbage was a paper. It must have been in a clean bag that was just put in.

I do think the teacher was very wrong in humiliating the girl and forcing her to eat something. The teacher should definitely be reprimanded,but police report,come on! This incident is being totally blown out of proportion,and yes,the race card is being played! I can't know for sure of course,but feel this idiot teacher would have done this to a student of any race.

manda... mandaschelle

The mom is looking to get something for nothing making it into a race and economic issue. I was forced to eat lunch I PAID for in front of my class mates more than 20 years ago. I'm white and middle class. Facts that have nothing to do with being force fed.

curio... curious1145

ThisGirl, I understand how you feel about her wasting food that others are paying for. However,once it's served to her,it can't be taken back and given to someone else if she doesn't want it. Unfortunately,if she doesn't eat it,it must be thrown away. I don't understand your point that she should have told her teacher,how would that help? Now,if she keeps wasting these free lunches or any lunches for that matter,it should be discussed with her parents so that food isn't consistently wasted and she doesn't regularly go hungry. But telling the teacher doesn't help in this one case.

nonmember avatar LilyP

I don't think this was a racial thing, and I don't think it was a humiliation thing. I think the teacher was just trying to teach the kid to not throw good food away, which is a good lesson to learn. HOWEVER, I think the message was lost because the child took it the wrong way, and I don't think the teacher did it in a good way. The whole situation is stupid, and in no way is racial.

curio... curious1145

Yes,mandashelle, I agree. I too am white and middle-class and also had a humiliating experience more than 20 years ago involving wasted food that I paid for. I threw away most of my lunch and got harshly yelled at by a lunchroom-attendant. If he had opened his eyes, maybe he could have figured out why I could barely eat. I was so self-conscious and miserable being the only kid in the junior-high lunchroom sitting at a table all by myself. Luckily,I eventually got table-mates. Teachers are mean to students of all races. (Not all teachers are mean of course.)

Margaret Griffin Willis

I don't care what kind of trash can it was , it must have been very degrading and embarrassing for the child , i would bet money if a any other kid threw food away nothing would have been said. The "teacher" sounds like a bully on a power trip , and should not be around kids. It is not the child's fault the parents can't support her so degrading her or bullying her was unacceptable. Doesn't matter who is " paying" for it ... That is no excuse to degrade and embarrass the child like that . Does anyone think there were other kids that will probably tease her from now on for eating " garbage " it's disgusting

tnyangel tnyangel

In our local schools, the "free lunch" program is take all or nothing. I thought it so odd that a child in the lunch line cannot say "No thank you" to an item they are never going to eat. The school insists the item be on the tray and thrown away. It's so awful we asked the lunch-lady why and were told the school had to report any leftovers in the kitchen and it would effect the school's subsidy money. Someone should be reporting the leftovers in the trash.

I did feel a little better when they told me all food in the trash goes to the pig farm at our local University.

nonmember avatar Kassy

So, you can't afford lunch for the girl, but you can afford a lawyer??

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