School lunch taken away from student - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

School lunch taken away from student

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(NEWS 8) — A Sacramento middle school is under fire for denying a student a cafeteria lunch. 

Daniel Gearhart says he put $10 into his daughter's lunch account online. But when lunchtime rolled around, the balance said zero and his daughter's meal was taken away. 

It was replaced with an apple and some milk.  

"[Imagine the embarrassment], to get up to the lunch line and have your lunch taken away from you because you didn't have three dollars," said Gearhart.  

And all in front of your classmates. 

On Friday, Gearhart says it happened to his 11-year-old daughter - a sixth grade student at Lincoln's Twelve Bridges Middle School 

"That kills you as a parent," he said. "I was immediately angry calling the school and trying to get answers." 

According to Western Placer Unified School District, it's policy. 

It released this statement on Wednesday saying in part: 

If a student does not have lunch money or does not have a balance on their account, they are offered a light alternative, which typically consists of milk or juice and a piece of fruit or snack bar. 

"This is just one of these practices that shocks the conscience," said California Senator Bob Hertzberg.  

California is trying to prevent what's known as lunch shaming. 

Starting January 1, a new law will stop schools from treating children whose lunch accounts are past due any differently than those who don't have money for the day. 

Senator Hertzberg authored the bill. 

"In the meantime, let's not victimize children for adult issues," he said.  

The law still allows schools to serve an "alternative snack" to students who can't pay and wouldn't have made a difference for Gearhart's daughter. 

But her dad hopes the district will make changes on its own so no child has to finish the school day hungry. 

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