Around 40 students at Uintah Elementary in Salt Lake City had their lunches taken away because of unpaid balances.
Jason Olsen, a Salt Lake City District spokesman, said the district’s child-nutrition department became aware that Uintah had many students who owed money for school lunches.
So, the child-nutrition manager visited the school and decided to take away lunches to those who owed money, to deal with the issue.
Olsen told the Salt Lake Tribune that parents with balances were contacted via phone Monday and Tuesday. They weren’t able to reach all parents before the child-nutrition manager decided to withhold lunches to deal with the debts.
Since the cafeteria workers didn’t know which students owed money, they were served, but once they learned of the students who needed to pay up, their lunches were thrown away.
They had to dispose of the food because once it’s served to a student it can’t be served to another, the Tribune reported.
Children whose lunches were taken away were given milk and fruit instead.
School officials told the district that the students typically are given information about any balances that are due as they go through the lunch line and then sent home with notifications to parents each week. They say they also send notes home in the student’s Monday folders.
One mother, Erica Lukes said this move is “traumatic and humiliating.”
“I think it’s despicable,” she said.
She also said “These are young children that shouldn’t be punished or humiliated for something the parents obviously need to clear up.”
Olsen later said, “This situation could have and should have been handled in a different manner. We apologize.”
“We understand the feelings of upset parents and students who say this was an embarrassing and humiliating situation,” Olsen went on to say. “We again apologize and commit to working with parents in rectifying this situation and to ensuring students are never treated in this manner again.”
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