Michigan mom pays off every student's lunch balance after son denied meal

Amanda Keown, mom of a junior at Dowagiac Union High School, wrote a check for over $200 to be divided among 19 students who had overdue balances.

DOWAGIAC, Mich.—When Amanda Keown got a call at work from her son last week, the news she received made her furious. Dominic Gant, a junior at Dowagiac Union High School in Dowagiac, Michigan, told his mother that he had not received his hot lunch that day because of an outstanding balance. But instead of just fixing her son’s situation, she decided to help the rest of the students dealing with the same situation.

Keown, a single mother who holds two jobs to support her family, didn’t realize there were insufficient funds in Dominic’s account (a total of $4.95 was still owed on his account). Though he offered to pay $2 of the $2.45 tab that day with the money he had on him and then bring the remainder in the next day, his offer was turned down and his lunch was thrown in the trash by a school official. Not only was the 16-year-old humiliated in front of his peers by the very public incident, but his name was also posted, along with that of lots of other students with delinquent expenses, on a list in the cafeteria for everyone to see. "I was very angry to the point I was sick to my stomach," Keown tells Yahoo Shine.

More From FoodService Director

Menu Development
ranch dressing chicken fingers

While salad bars are often the first place K-12 operators look to incorporate more fresh produce, few go as far as making their own salad dressings. But last fall, in a continuing effort to transition from prepackaged meals to an all-scratch menu, Mark Augustine, executive chef of culinary and nutrition services for Minneapolis Public Schools, switched to concocting four varieties in-house—ranch, Caesar, Italian and Asian vinaigrette. The move, designed to eliminate artificial ingredients and lower fat and sodium, presented the biggest challenge when it came to ranch dressing, the school-...

Ideas and Innovation
phone bed call sick

We make people call and directly talk to their boss or supervisor if they are reporting an absence for a shift. While it is more cumbersome, it is a conscious decision. We have adapted and implemented electronic methods to obtain efficiencies in just about every other functional area, except for electronic absence reporting systems. The direct supervisor can put more pressure on an employee to show up—especially those with some form of the “Super Bowl plague”—than any electronic system can.

Ideas and Innovation
tug hospital robot

Automation has opened up in recent years as foodservice operators across the country grapple with labor shortages. Robots deliver food trays to patients in hospitals, and they make sushi on college campuses. For some operators, they’re worthwhile to reduce strain on human employees and increase productivity.

Robots roamed the hallways when the University of California San Francisco Medical Center’s new Mission Bay campus opened last year. Though these robots have nicknames like Wall-E and Tuggie McFresh, they’re not a novelty. They’re a solution to a problem that administrators...

Ideas and Innovation
business card

We get the new folks abridged business cards saying, “Hi, my name is so-and-so and I work in nutrition department.” We thought it would give them more ownership of the program and elevate their status and position in the organization. It also gives our team more self-confidence and self-worth as an employee, which can be a challenge with foodservice workers.

FSD Resources