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(NECN: Alysha Palumbo, Attleboro, Mass.) - Several students were denied school lunch at Coelho Middle School in Attleboro, Mass. Tuesday, leaving administrators and parents irate.
Principal Andrew Boles said, "There was a decision made by someone that said if a child had a negative balance or insufficient funds, that they wouldn't be allowed to eat lunch, which me as the building principal - absolutely appalling - saddens me that we would think that this was a way that would be okay."
Boles says he didn't find out the students had gone hungry until he got an e-mail from a parent after school.
He said, "It doesn't matter if it was one student or 500 students, the fact is it should have never have happened."
Parents in Attleboro couldn't believe a child would be denied food just because their parents may have lapsed into putting money into their pre-paid accounts.
Parent Tiffany Bastow said, "That's horrible, that's extremely horrible and the kids probably feel horrible too, like they're not good enough to have school lunch."
"That's just ridiculous because obviously if they didn't have any money the parents would make up for it the next day," said another parent Christine Todaro.
The district's meal service provider, Whitsons Culinary Group, terminated the four employees involved and it has already begun an internal investigation into the matter.
Whitsons officials say the employees didn't have a good explanation for denying students lunch, and even forcing some to throw the food away if they couldn't pay for it, reportedly leaving a few children in tears.
Whitsons VP of Marketing Holly Von Seggern said, "As a family company, we can hardly imagine the shock and humiliation they felt and our primary focus at this time is to help restore the community's faith in our ability to provide every child in the district with the meals they need to fortify themselves throughout each and every school day."