Willimgton, Ohio – Imagine a young child coming to you and saying that they are still hungry after eating, it is hard to tell them that they cannot have any more food. Debbie Solsman experienced this many times over her 14 years of being a lunch lady at Denver Place Elementary School.
Children who do not have lunch money would receive a cheese sandwich but Solsman felt in her heart that she could do more, and she did. She would upgrade lunch meals for those who did not have money, or give them extra food if they were still hungry.
“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,” Solsman said.
The school district fired her two months ago and now her supporters are speaking out.
“There were children that got a free lunch that would come back and say, ‘Miss Debbie, I’m still hungry’ … And you don’t know how many times I heard they didn’t have supper that night.”
She admitted to giving her grandchildren extra food, but said she also helped others, not just them.
“I broke the rule,” Solsman said. “I’m the one that broke the rule, it’s not the district, and I really want everybody to know that my 14 years that I was there, Wilmington City Schools were good to me … But in my heart, when that child tells me they’re hungry, do I believe them or just say, ‘No, you don’t need any more today?’ How do you determine the difference between that?”
According to the school district, it is required by the National School Lunch program to receive a full meal and that was provided. They released a statement this week, “students are always given a complete lunch pattern meal, regardless of the monies in their account.” The meal includes a meat or meat alternative, vegetable, fruit, grain and milk.
“Under no circumstances is a student ever denied a complete meal,” according to the district’s statement.
Solsman has been offered two job positions as lunch lady at other schools since her supporters have drawn national attention.