It routinely happened in front of their peers - causing deep embarrassment.
Instead of their normal hot lunch, the food on the tray was thrown out and the children were given a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
School officials said it happened because cafeteria workers didn't know until the student got to the cash register at the end of the lunch line that an account was overdrawn - and then they had little choice about what to do.
But officials agreed the policy was harsh and set out to do something about it.
During the summer, cafeteria workers underwent special training to help eliminate embarrassing moments for students.
"We're trained with Child Nutrition that we plan ahead. We know the children that have a negative balance. And we make sure that we know that ahead of time and we make it as smooth as possible," said cafeteria manager Linda Jones.
Staff members check accounts every day - before children come down the line - to figure out who's getting a lunch bag instead of a hot lunch. Parents are also notified by phone when a child is reaching his or her credit limit.
"It is just a call that goes out to the parents of just those students who are in danger of reaching the six dollar limit," explained principal Peggy Raymes.
Administrators say they're pleased with the change. While some student accounts are still overdrawn, the new procedure is designed to eliminate an embarrassing moment for children in front of classmates.