Della Curry is a former kitchen manager at Dakota Valley Elementary. The mother of two lost her job on Friday, May 29, 2015, after giving school lunches to students who didn’t have any money.
“I had a first grader in front of me, crying, because she doesn’t have enough money for lunch. Yes, I gave her lunch,” Curry said.
In the district, students who fail to qualify for the free lunch or reduced lunch program receive one slice of cheese on a hamburger bun, and a small bottle of milk. Curry says the meal is not adequate enough for these young students, and for this reason, she sometimes even paid for lunches out of her own pocket to feed them.
“I’ll own that I broke the law. The law needs to change,” she said.
Curry understands that she was fired for breaking a school policy, however, she is hoping her story will lead to some changes.
“If me getting fired for it is one way that we can try to change this, I’ll take it in a heartbeat,” she said.
Cherry Creek School District released the following statement about this story:
The law does not require the school district to provide the meal to children who have forgotten their lunch money, that is a district decision. According to our practice, we provide hot meals to students the first three times they forget their lunch money and charge their parents’ accounts. The fourth time, we provide a cheese sandwich and milk.
The district has worked to keep lunch prices low and still meet the federal nutrition requirements. The costs of our lunch program are not covered by the prices we charge. At the end of the year, any unpaid accounts revert back to the general fund which also covers instruction, security, building maintenance and overall operations.