Della Curry has been fired from her job as a school kitchen manager and she doesn’t regret a thing.
The married mother of two was dismissed from working at the Dakota Valley Elementary School near Aurora, Colorado after she gave a hungry student a free lunch. Curry says that she would often see students who didn’t have lunch money and weren’t signed up for lunch programs crying in front of her come meal time.
“I had a first grader in front of me, crying because she didn’t have enough money for lunch,” Curry told CBS. “Yes, I gave her lunch.”
The cut-off for qualifying for free lunch is $31,000 or less per year for a family of four, which is just above the poverty line. Students who don’t qualify by having a family that earns more than $31,000 receive one slice of cheese on a hamburger bun and a small milk. It’s easy to see how that might not be enough food to sustain kids until they get home. Unable to qualify by having a family that makes too much, yet not having enough to buy a proper lunch, these children that slip through the cracks don’t have many options.
“I’ll own that I broke the law. The law needs to change,” she said.
Curry thought just that and often bought students lunch with her own money, she said. The school district claimed that Curry was terminated for violating school policy by giving the student a free meal.
One parent named Darnell Hill told KCNC-TV that Curry had helped his son when he forgot his lunch money. “Do something different than fire her,” said Hill. “She’s trying to help.”
Curry went on say that she is planning on addressing the school board directly about changing the district’s lunch policy.
Cherry Creek School District released this statement regarding the 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.