Parents of a 7-year-old Washington boy are questioning why their son was told he couldn't be served lunch last month at school, as district officials stand by their word that "they never deny students" a meal.
In October, Xavier, a first grader at Cascade View Elementary, was denied lunch and sent home with a slip stating he was not provided a meal because of a negative balance on his lunch account, Xavier's father, Eric -- who didn't share their last name -- told Q13 Fox News. But Eric claimed his family receives public food assistance, which means his son should always be provided a meal.
Now, Eric's searching for answers.
“It was a sack lunch. It was in a bag, she was passing it around to everybody," Xavier said of his interactions with a lunch lady, according to the news source. "The lunch lady said, ‘Guess what, you can’t have a lunch.’ She said that. She said I can’t have a lunch."
Snohomish County School District, however, is claiming reports surrounding Xavier are false.
"While we are prohibited under federal privacy laws from discussing student lunch accounts or any student’s status with the district, we can say that the information being shared with the media about the student is unfortunately both inaccurate and misleading," a statement on the district's website explains.
Although Q13 Fox News reported that Eric claims his son was denied lunch around Oct. 20, the district said the date in question was Oct. 22 -- a half-day due to parent-teacher conferences. Because of the shortened school hours, no lunches were served by the district’s food service provider. Instead, the school served sack lunches for any student wishing to take food home -- a standard practice by the district.
The district states that 90 sandwiches were prepared for the sack lunches. Though that amounts to 30 more than what the school calculated students would consume -- based on demand from past half days -- there weren't enough sandwiches for every student who wanted one. However, students could still take fruits, vegetables and drinks, the district said.
While questions remain about what exactly Xavier experienced at school last month, many children know what it feels like to be denied a meal at school. In January, for example, up to 40 students in a Salt Lake City elementary school had their lunches taken away due to miscommunications regarding a new payment system.
Xavier is one of the 21.5 million students in the U.S. who benefit from free and reduced price school lunches, according to the Food Research and Action Center. Hungry students are a serious problem in the U.S. school system, ThinkProgress noted last year, as three-quarters of American teachers reported having students who routinely show up to class without being properly fed, a 2013 No Kid Hungry survey found.
To Eric, who said his "question was never answered as to why [Xavier] was denied," he simply wants what's best for his child.
"I couldn’t believe it happened," Eric told Q13 Fox News. "[I was denied lunch] as a child and I could still feel that hurt, and I can only imagine what he went through.”
To help fight child hunger, visit Feeding America's website.