Della Curry is the former Colorado elementary school kitchen manager who has garnered many a news headline lately, following her claim that she was fired by the Cherry Creek School District for giving free meals to kids who didn’t have enough lunch money. Just days after Curry’s accusation, the school district made a public announcement that refutes the former employee’s claim, saying that the district would never let children go hungry and that the cafeteria worker was released for entirely separate reasons.
The official statement released on June 4 from the Cherry Creek School District, located in Aurora, Colorado disputes Curry’s claims about the reason for her termination. The statement says: “Ms. Curry was not dismissed for giving free food to financially disadvantaged students. Numerous documented incidents resulted in the action taken by the Cherry Creek School District.” The district announcement goes on to explain that the details of Curry’s termination are protected under privacy policies, and that Curry has the opportunity to waive those rights and allow the full record to be released. The former school employee has stated that she will not do that.
Children’s hunger is a hot button issue in America, where we often assume our nation is too rich for kids to go without. Yet, an estimated 15 million children live in a household where consistent access to nutritious food is lacking. In 2012 alone, 31.6 million children received meals through the National School Lunch Program, at a reduced or waived cost to their family. That’s why the notion that a compassionate cafeteria worker might lose her job, and thus the ability to properly nourish her own two children, has continued to make headlines weeks after the news broke.
In the Cherry Creek School District, the free and reduced lunch program is alive and well, and the district has a separate policy for providing three free hot meals to students who forget or otherwise don’t have enough money for lunch. After that, the district offers them a choice of a “chicken, turkey, or cheese sandwich and milk.” Arguably, that meal likely falls short of most people’s idea of a nutritious school lunch, but that becomes a separate question if the real reasons for Curry’s dismissal come to light and they don’t include a reprimand for handing out free hot meals.