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School District Seizes Lunches From 40 Elementary Students

As many as 40 students at Uintah Elementary in Salt Lake City had their lunches—which they'd already received from the cafeteria—seized and trashed by school authorities because their parents were behind on payments.

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  1. Bureaucrat (Child-nutrition manager) + liberal application of Tar and Feathers = Problem solved

    1. The workers then took those lunches from the students and threw them away, he said, because once food is served to one student it can’t be served to another. Children whose lunches were taken were given milk and fruit instead.
      I can only imagine how the kids felt. What kind of message did this send to the children? The workers threw out perfectly good food (I'm assuming good) and gave each child milk & fruit instead? Free milk & fruit? But it's okay to waste food while you're miffed about a past due lunch balance. What??

      2 Replies
      1. re: HillJ

        Tell you what, I can remember how geeky I could feel at any given moment back when I was 10 even on an ordinary day. Shame, shame, shame on people who brought the mistake of grownups to the kids' tables.

        1. re: pinehurst

          Frankly pineh, if educators and people working with children can't remain cool, calm and collected over something as simple as school lunch, there are bigger issues at play. The video linked below shows how quickly Admin wanted to laugh it off. Lawyers at the microphone serious one minute, joking the next. At the end of the day it's politics. How do "we" handle the embarrassment.

          We all know this should never have happened. Or escalated to this point. But what saddens me is that children never forget how you make them feel. They move on, they don't forget. How sad for each of them that their school, a place for learning, would make them feel humiliated or worse. Mistakes happen, cruelty has no place-anywhere.

      2. Terminate that oblivious bureaucrat who ordered the seizing and trashing of their food. Yes that makes sense, throw away food when the kids are standing there hungry and humiliated in front of their peers. Lots of damage control needed on this one.

        1 Reply
        1. re: MamasCooking

          It seems they've suspended one person: http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/574... but it doesn't seem clear who actually ordered the seizing. They seem prepared to get rid of more people over this, though.

        2. What a bunch of idiots.

          This is an issue for the parents and the school officials; the kids should not have to be involved.

            1. re: ritabwh

              ...and in a place that is supposed to be ABOUT the children. They can't help their family circumstances; they're stuck with it. If there's stress at home, it would be nice for school to be a safe haven, not a place for humiliation and semi-starvation.

              1. re: sandylc

                Poor kids. This is a grammar school so it was little guys like in 5th grade and such:( Adults bullying hungry little school kids. Let me at em:(!!!!

                1. re: sandylc

                  and let's all be honest -- the fact that a kid's lunch account is behind is NOT necessarily a sign of the family's financial status --- I'll be the first to raise my hand to say that it's slipped through the cracks once or twice when I've been traveling heavily.

                  They fed my kid, however, and just sent me a note.

                  1. re: sunshine842

                    I work with my brother and he consistently forgets to put money into his two kids' lunch accounts. He has the money but not a good memory, apparently. In our school district, no money in the account means no food. They don't go through the line at all.

                    I got a text just this Wednesday at 11:50 from my 7th-grade nephew:
                    "lee lee, can you please bring me lunch money. I'm out and dad had to go to Denton." I ran right over to the school.

                    The poor kids that had their lunches taken up. So awful!

                    1. re: KrumTx

                      our school district has move the entire system online -- I just make an online payment, and it sends me an email when the account drops below an amount that *I* choose. Haven't run dry since they made the switch.

                  2. re: sandylc

                    hate to say this but the "saints" did not act very saintly. :-(

                2. I think that when my child has had overdue accounts at the school they just send a note home. If it gets too bad they won't issue a report card until the balance is paid.

                  This behavior is inexcusable.

                  I would be willing to bet that the district still collected the federal subsidy for having fed the children.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: jpc8015

                    That's the first thing I thought. It's not like they're losing money to feed the kids with overdue accounts.

                    1. re: Samalicious

                      They have already cooked the food. Hm-mmm, give it to hungry children who are in your care, or throw it away?

                      Such a hard decision!

                  2. http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/574...

                    Update of this story and the video (as Jacq posted above) gives a detailed account of what has happened since the initial report.

                    As well as this update today:


                    1. From what I saw on tv, they did not notify the parents that their accounts were too low.


                      1. Whatever happened to sending lunch money(cash) to school with your kids? Is that still allowable? Guess I'm way behind the times.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: miss_belle

                          long gone. Most of it's online -- and better, because it doesn't get lost on the way.

                          1. re: sunshine842

                            Really now? Well, I'm glad I don't have to put up with this nonsense anymore.:-)

                            1. re: miss_belle

                              It's a far better option than hoping your kid gets to school with the lunch money (lost, stolen, spent on something else) -- there's no lunch ticket to lose (they punch their student ID into a keypad) -- and no delay until the check gets posted -- it's immediate, secure, traceable -- and the system our district uses allows you to pull up the account and see what your kid is actually choosing for lunch.

                              Makes life easier on a lot of levels. we've had it for about 10 years now.

                        2. In district I work in, if kids are shy on $$ in account... at least get a PBJ or cheese sandwich!!

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: kseiverd

                            In our district the PTA would have helped cover the bill until the billing was worked out. At the very least, our school nurse has snacks and fixings in her office.

                            1. re: HillJ

                              I work in a high school one day a week in a district where many families are not well off. The last speech therapist started a tradition, which I have continued, of having snack packs of cheese and crackers, apples, and Vitamin Waters available to anyone who asks. Usually get a couple of kids each day stopping by. I can't even imagine throwing away food rather than giving it to kids. Maybe their parents were just forgetful or maybe they were truly in dire situations. Either way, it's in no way within the student's control.

                              1. re: ErnieD

                                Even in districts were the parents both work and nannies get the children off to school forgetting to pay the lunch tab happens too. Like you, I agree the children shouldn't be held responsible for such oversights that will be dealt with, they should receive their lunch without issue and finish their school day happy, alert and energized.

                                If the billing system has issues, Administrators are well paid to fix them.

                          2. This is disgusting. These are little kids! Who takes food away from hungry little kids?? Shameful!!!

                            That said, I really, really hate the online system of payment where my kid has a card at school and every lunch is debited from his account. To me, that is training little kids to be reliant on credit cards. I refuse to fund the account and instead send him to school with cash on the days when he wants to buy lunch. That works for us.

                            1. One of Tom Colicchio's more interesting Top Chef blog posts was about school lunch programs (his mother was a lunch lady). He thinks that it would actually be cheaper to just provide lunch for all the students (just as they're all provided with chairs and desks) than it is to have people working to figure out who qualifies for the program, collecting the money, etc. etc.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                Just like when health insurance companies got into the business of managing how doctors did their jobs. Their expenses/payroll went way up, and so did the doctors', what with compliance/proving compliance.

                                The ultimate payer is the patient.

                                The concept of, "Let's make it more complex so that we can save money" is foolish.

                                1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                  When I was in grade school we ate in our classroom. No cafeteria. We had two options. Bring a fresh lunch each day or keep a few jarred items in the back of the classroom locker to make a peanut butter & jelly sandwich. In the winter, PB&J was easier and in the warmer months I brought my own brown bag lunch. I didn't see a cafeteria until I was in 8th grade. And then we all were so excited by the idea none of us wanted to bring our own lunch to school...of course, that wore off by 10th grade! But even then cafeteria lunches were .95 with milk. I kept a change purse in my napsack with coins for lunch & snack. Yes, we broke for a classroom snack too.

                                  So, I'm an older generation that raised her kids in systems that were considerably diff from my own and different than today. But with the time span btwn my kids I experienced a good deal of change. There were issues with what kids packed, with allergies, with time allotted to eat, no refrigeration, etc. It was always a rushed meal for my kids. Sometimes they came home hungry and ate before dinner because they didn't finish their lunch. As for payment, we had a jar for lunch money in the kitchen. Their father and I kept it filled and they grabbed what they needed. No billing system at school whatsoever.

                                  I'm not sure how I feel about a billing system. But if the school billing creates a big issue as to whether or not your child will get lunch @ school I'm not keen on the concept.

                                  1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                    Absolutely. Some areas with a high proportion of free lunches already do that, because the cost of processing all those forms outweighs any possible "savings".