The story was first reported by WLOS.
The 15-year-old student said he had already gotten his lunch and sat down at a table when he was forced to go back to the cash register with his tray. The cashier told the student that because he owed money for past unpaid lunches, he would have to throw away his untouched lunch.
The teenager refused and handed the cafeteria worker cash instead. He told WLOS he was unaware of his negative balance.
"I just pulled out a five, gave them the money and told them to keep the change," student Dominic Russell said.
Parents at the school are outraged that administrators are taking this avenue to enforce a school policy.
"I think it was humiliating for the kids that didn't have the money to pay for their lunch," said Angela Riddle, a parent at the high school.
Madison County High School Principal Steve Bowlin said each time students purchase something from the cafeteria they are told their balance.
Russell's classmates rallied around the student, protesting the policy of throwing away fresh food.
Bowlin said he has planned a meeting for Monday to discover other opportunities to collect cafeteria debts.