School food service company vows to discipline workers after refusal to feed children who were short of money

ATTLEBORO – The food service company that provides lunches to students at the Coelho Middle School here today vowed to discipline employees — including termination — who refused to feed some 25 children this week because their pre-paid lunch accounts were low in funds.

The company, Whitsons School Nutrition, continues to investigate, but has already determined that some workers violated the Attleboro school district’s policies when they chose not to give lunches to hungry children, said Holly Van Seggern, vice president for marketing.

“The results of the investigation concluded that several individuals were acting outside of the district’s policy on handling pending balances for meal accounts,’’ Von Seggern told reporters this afternoon. “These individuals will be subject to disciplinary action, including termination.’’


Von Seggern would not say how many employees have lost, or will lose, their jobs. She also refused to say if the employees who have been identified as violating policy were management employees or cafeteria workers.

She did say, however, that the company would provide free lunches to all Coelho school students for three days next week, starting on Wednesday. The company will also host a barbecue for students and their families at a future date.

The decision by some company employees not to provide lunch has drawn national attention, especially after parents like John Greaves publicly aired their disapproval. His 11-year-old daughter, Victoria, came home hungry after cafeteria staff noticed she had $1.17 in her lunch account for a lunch that costs $2.40.

“There are murderers and rapists who ate lunch in prison that day, but my daughter didn’t get anything to eat?’’ John Greaves told the Globe this week.

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