In the growing issue of how to help hungry children who need a school lunch (besides actually feeding them), another beloved lunch lady was fired for giving children food. This time it is Debbie Solsman of Wilmington, Ohio, who worked for Denver Place Elementary School for 14 years.
The school district fired her for “not keeping track of her register and providing food to her grandchildren without payment.” Solsman admits that she did give food to her grandchildren, but that she also gave food to a lot of other children—and often paid IOUs with her own money.
Solsman wanted to help the children in her school. For instance, when a child did not have enough money, they were given a cheese sandwich—but Solsman took issue with that: “If they didn’t have enough money in their account, they would get a cheese sandwich instead … The other kids knew when they walked out into the cafeteria why they got the cheese sandwich.” Her actions kept those students from being teased or bullied by the other students.
Most of all, Solsman had a big heart. “There were children that got a free lunch that would come back and say, ‘Miss Debbie, I’m still hungry,’” Solsman said. “And you don’t know how many times I heard they didn’t have supper that night.”
The district claims that “Under no circumstances is a student ever denied a complete meal” and that they abide by the requirements of the National School Lunch Program. However, other schools are siding with Solsman—she already has two job offers to be a lunch lady again.