Elementary school kitchen manager fired for giving free lunch to students without money

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Wednesday, June 3, 2015
School lunch tray

AURORA, CO -- A lunch lady says she is out of a job because she gave free lunches to students who didn't have any money.

According to the Denver Post, Della Curry, 35, was the Cherry Creek School District's kitchen manager. She says she would often see students crying because of hunger and no lunch money. So instead of letting them go hungry, she would pay for lunches out of her own pocket or let them have it for free. When this was discovered, Curry was let go.

After losing her job, Curry started a Facebook page dedicated to changing laws and policies about school lunches called "No Child Goes Hungry."

"It's time to make school lunch an integral and included part of every child's school day," she wrote on the page.

The district does have a free lunch program, but it is only for children who meet federal income guidelines. The district wouldn't comment on why it fired Curry, but it released a statement saying, "The law does not require the school district to provide a meal to children who have forgotten their lunch money."

"It is policy to never give out free food ... that is all fine and dandy until you have little kids not on the free and reduced program and their account goes negative," Curry told the Denver Post.

To qualify for free lunch, a family of four can't make more than $31,000. If a student can't pay for the food, the school will provide a cheese sandwich.

Curry says that's not just not good enough. She says there are many students who don't qualify for the free lunch program and show up many days out of the year with no money to eat. Over the course of the year, she says she gave about 20 students a free hot lunch.

"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 told KCNC-TV. "I'll own that I broke the law. The law needs to change."

Curry has a 7-year-old daughter and a 4-year-old son of her own. She may be looking for a new job, but she wrote on Facebook she would do it all over again if she could.

"While I know that what I did was legally wrong, I do not feel bad about it," she wrote. "I would do it again in a heartbeat."