Lunch Lady Fired Because She Can't Say 'No' to Hungry Kids

della curry

A cafeteria worker was fired for giving school lunches to kids who couldn't afford them. Della Curry, a kitchen manager at Dakota Valley Elementary School in Aurora, Colorado, lost her job for forking over free food, but has no regrets. 


"I had a first grader in front of me, crying, because she doesn't have enough money for lunch. Yes, I gave her lunch," says Della, a mom of two. "I'll own that I broke the law," she admits. "The law needs to change."

In Della's school district, kids quality for free lunch if their family earns less than $31,000 per year, $45,000 for reduced lunch. She saw that a lot kids didn't qualify, but still couldn't afford the meals. She often paid out of her own pocket before she started just forking food out to these kids for free.

While Della's story has garnered some sympathy, the school defends her termination by explaining that her actions ultimately hurts other students by depleting resources that typically go to other aspects of school maintenance.

More from The Stir: Cafeteria Worker Humiliates 10-Year-Old for Not Having Money to Buy Lunch

Hearing both sides, I have to say, this is tough. If I were that lunch lady, staring at a kid who was crying and hungry, I'd slip him a lunch, too. Only I'd probably make a point to pay for it every time, and start going through the proper channels to address this problem in a legitimate way on a larger scale.

For instance: Couldn't Della have raised this concern with the school board and asked them to reassess the income thresholds to qualify families for free or reduced lunch? Or couldn't she have asked the PTA to set up a lunch fund for these kids who aren't quite disadvantaged enough to qualify for free or reduced lunch, but who clearly need help?

Because here's the thing: By going all vigilante and sneakily handing out free food left and right, that's essentially stealing: that money came out of the school budget for, say, pencils or paper. And that isn't fair to other kids.

Her actions also aren't fair to other parents who do struggle to pay for their kid's lunch and manage to do so. If were a mom who was scrimping to save up money for my child's lunch, I'd be miffed to know some other kid was just getting it for free. Why not my kid, too?

Maybe Della is right, and the laws need to change. But just breaking the law without exploring legitimate solutions isn't fair, either -- even when it comes to hungry kids. 

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Do you think this cafeteria worker should have been fired?


Image via CBSN

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