WALDORF, Md. (WUSA9) -- A Waldorf mom is accusing Charles County school officials of humiliating her children by feeding them a plain cheese sandwich instead of a regular entree when the family's school lunch account fell behind by $12.
"It sets them up for ridicule and bullying," complained mother Lisa Hogan after her two children Justin and Hailee, both seven-years-old, were told to hand back lunch trays back this week for non-payment. A cheese sandwich was then substituted for the main entree.
Hogan also said that the original lunch that was served was discarded.
Children of parents who can afford to pay for school lunches but fall behind by $12 automatically receive an "alternative" lunch, explained Charles County Schools Spokesperson Katie O'Malley-Simpson.
"No student is ever denied a lunch at the elementary level," Simpson-O'Malley said.
On average, 154 alternative lunches are served in the county daily, according to O'Malley-Simpson. School lunch costs $2.40 per meal.
Parents are notified when accounts are falling short by weekly notes home, O'Malley-Simpson said. Parents may also opt to receive automated emails from the website used by parents to pre-pay for school lunches.
Hogan does not dispute that she inadvertently fell behind on her children's school lunch account, but she said someone from the school should have spoke with her over the phone before the cheese sandwich lunch was served.
By not taking action until families fall $12 behind, Charles County's non-payment policy is more liberal than some neighboring school districts. Prince George's County begins serving cheese sandwiches when accounts hit $0.
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