Parents upset after school takes lunches from students with account deficits

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(Fox13) SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Dozens of students at a Salt Lake City elementary school were served lunch Tuesday, only to have the food taken from them and thrown away in an incident parents said was uncalled for and humiliating for the children.

The incident took place at Uintah Elementary School when students were told their school lunch account had either a zero or a negative balance.

The students’ lunches were taken and thrown away, and the students were provided with fruit and milk. Officials said it’s school policy for food in such situations to be put in the trash.

Parent Erica Lukes said taking away her child’s lunch was “ridiculous.”

“I don’t think any child should have to feel like that over a two-dollar lunch balance,” she said.

Jason Olsen is the communication director for the Salt Lake City School District, and he said in a statement officials with the school and district started calling parents with negative or zero balances on school lunch accounts beginning Monday and continuing Tuesday. He said students without money in their account were told Tuesday they would only be getting fruit and milk.

Because the children are given their lunch before they go to process payment, those without positive account balances had their lunches taken away from them.

The statement from Olsen reads in part:

“This situation could have and should have been handled in a different manner. We apologize.

We are also investigating what type of notification parents may or may not have received prior to this week. The schools says they inform students when they go through the lunch line if they have a low balance. They say they also send notes home in the student’s Monday folders. However, when contacted Monday or Tuesday, many parents were surprised by the news. The district has specific guidelines for school kitchen managers on how parents should be notified, and we are currently investigating to see if these guidelines were followed correctly.

We understand the feelings of upset parents and students who say this was an embarrassing and humiliating situation. We again apologize and commit to working with parents in rectifying this situation and to ensuring students are never treated in this manner again.”


  • Shannon

    That is just ridiculous! Communication!!! Call the parents. Don't send home notes with children!! This school would rather take food from a child and make them go hungry all because a CHILD forgot to tell their parents or give them a note? I don't think an apology alone is good enough in this situation. It was rude and ignorant. I feel disciplinary action should be administered towards whomever took the childrens lunches!

    • Shannon

      How about a little more notice to get in touch with the parents? Some work and cant answer their phones while on the clock

  • Tammy

    So it was better to throw the food away than to allow them to eat it. What's wrong with public schools today? So sad and such a waste. Not to mention how those children felt and the teasing they will now have to deal with since other kids i'm sure will be making fun of them. This country is on a fast track to more violence in our schools. I hope the parents stand up & fight for better rules to protect their children.

  • Buffy

    There was no reason what so ever for them to punish these children. I try to remember how much my son has in his account and there has been several times that his account has been zero because I FORGOT to send in more. It is not the child's fault that the parent forgets to pay. My son's school has a policy that they feed them for three days then after that they get a cheese sandwiches and fruit/veggies.

  • Barbie

    Here’s a no brainer. How about allow the child to eat? Then at the end of the year if the parents want a report card or any files they pay the balance. Works great for my daughter’s school.

  • Shirley

    This is totally uncalled for this to have happened in first place period. Im not from there nor was it my child but I feel the children’s pain nd confussion nd the parents anger! We are to teach our children right from wrong nd schools are supposed to be a role model to our children. School systems are out of control now days. I myself had an incident where a teacher put his hands on my son as he was going to the bathroom nd the talk about stopping bullying, what about teacher bullying??? And what do u do??? This world is sickening anymore!!!!

  • Beth Bedwell

    Whoever approved this action should be standing in the unemployment line. I can tell you right now that if any of those children were mine I would have someones head on a stick! This was absolutely deplorable, who does this to children? In our school all lunch balances are electronic and we have full access 24 hrs a day, 365 days a year. But even if the children are over our school would NEVER hand a hot meal to a child just to snatch it back a few minutes later. What the hell is wrong with these people?!?! This was unacceptable…….

  • silvia

    So, it was more acceptable to throw food in the trash than to feed a hungry child. So that is what schools are teaching these days? My respect for public schools and their administration has sunk even lower, shame on you.

  • QUEENA78

    school lunches are cheap to begin with, but to take food from a child is just wrong no matter the situation. For some kids that may be the only meal they get for the day…..Shame on the school! Everyone involved in this happening should be terminated from their positions and charged with child endangerment so that they may never work with children again…..Policy my ass if a kid is hungry you feed them, PERIOD!

  • Jacqueine

    I have read about this before, and I feel that they are utterly disgusting human beings who should not be educators, in charge of children's educations! You do not allow a child, or anyone for that matter, to go hungry! You do not teach them to be cold hearted individuals! They should be teaching them compassion, and to do the right things; not to be uncaring jerks! School meals should be free for everyone, anyhow… My daughter's school and many other schools in the same district, have implemented a program where all students get free breakfast and lunch. There is how you resolve this issue all together!

  • weimerheimer

    What would Michelle Obama say about this? OMG!!!!!!

    School Districts are out of hand. Relying on an elementary or middle school child to bring home a paper is NOT a reliable source to convey the message.

  • Robert Copper

    Sign of the times, everyone whats to jump to conclusions with out any facts. This sounds like a last ditch effort to get the point across to the parents. Unless little Johnny is spending his lunch money for other things the parents would know if money were owed. The way the government school system is setup taxpayers probably spent much more than was owed just trying to collect. They need a system where the cash register is at the beginning and not the end of the line.

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