Food by VICE

A Middle School Student Was Arrested for ‘Stealing’ Free Milk from His Cafeteria

As a member of the school’s free lunch program, student Ryan Turk was charged with larceny over milk that he was supposed to be able to get the milk for free, rather than paying 65 cents like students who are not a part of the program.

by Hilary Pollack
May 24 2016, 5:00pm

Photo via Flickr user DC Central Kitchen

Being a high schooler sucks. Even worse to be in middle school, when hormones rage hard but freedoms are virtually nonexistent, and teen angst is raging amidst a sea of bullies, puberty, and increased expectations of maturity.

But there's one perk to being a middle- or high-schooler, and that's that your basic food needs are usually taken care of at the cafeteria. You might have to learn trigonometry against your will, but you can at least eat cheese sandwiches and terrible chicken nuggets to your heart's content while doing so.

READ MORE: This Mom Says a School Humiliated Her Children with Cheese Sandwiches

One unfortunate student in Virginia, however, has learned that even the cafeteria isn't safe from the confusing politics of the adult world, and that life is actually even less fair than it seems when you're 14.

One May 10, at Graham Park Middle School in Triangle, Virginia, student Ryan Turk went to the lunch line and grabbed a carton of milk. As a member of the school's free lunch program, he is supposed to be able to get the milk for free, rather than paying 65 cents like students who are not a part of the program.

But a Prince William County Police Officer who was on site accused Ryan of stealing the milk, according to CBS 6. An argument ensued, and when Ryan tried to pull away from the officer, was put in handcuffs and taken to the principal's office.

"I yanked away from him I told him to get off of me because he's not my dad," Ryan told CBS 6.

He was also searched for drugs, because according to his mother, Shamise Turk, he was "fidgety, kept pulling on the strings of his pants, and laughing when we were trying to talk to him."

Turk was then charged with larceny and has been ordered to appear in juvenile court. Additionally, he was suspended for theft, being disrespectful, and using his cell phone in school.

READ MORE: The Fight Over School Lunch Mandates Is Going Nowhere

A spokesperson for the school said that all disciplinary action can be appealed and that "the need for disciplinary action is determined by how a student behaves throughout any given incident."

Shamise is incredibly angry with the school's decision, especially since her son has been charged with larceny over milk that he was technically entitled to through the lunch program. Police claim that the larceny charge is due to Ryan's alleged attempt to "conceal" the milk, which Shamise and Ryan deny.

"This is ridiculous… This is embarrassing," Shamise said. "He's at home for 65 cents."

Some news outlets, including RawStory and Boing Boing, have suggested that Ryan's race may have played a factor in the incident. But Ryan and Shamise have not publicly discussed whether they believe Ryan, who is black, would have been treated differently if he were white.

But one thing is certain: We're still extremely glad to no longer be subject to the many injustices of middle school.

school lunches
Ryan Turk
Shamise Turk