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Students' Lunches Thrown Away as Punishment

Elementary School Throws Out Lunches From Students in Debt

As many as 40 students got quite a surprise when they sat down for lunch in their school cafeteria earlier this week — and we're not talking about the mystery meat that was served. After students at Uintah Elementary in Salt Lake City began to eat their lunches, school officials literally picked up the trays from 40 students and trashed their meals after the child-nutrition department realized that the kids' families had outstanding balances on their accounts.

According to school officials, the child-nutrition department noticed that a lot of families in the school were late on their payments and tried to contact them all on Monday but hadn't made contact with everyone by lunchtime on Tuesday. That's when they decided withholding lunches was the best way to handle the situation. But the cafeteria workers couldn't see which children's accounts were in arrears, so they served all students in the line and the lunches were removed from the kids after the food was served.

Needless to say, parents are outraged. "It was pretty traumatic and humiliating," Erica Lukes, told The Salt Lake Tribune after she learned her 11-year-old daughter's lunch was taken from her.


A Salt Lake District spokesman originally responded to enraged parents with a terse statement stating, "If students were humiliated and upset, that's very unfortunate and not what we wanted to happen." But the school district later posted a more sincere note on their Facebook page saying, "This situation could have and should have been handled in a different manner. We apologize."

What do you think? How would you have reacted if your child's lunch was tossed?

Image Source: Shutterstock
Join The Conversation
Rachel15380225 Rachel15380225 3 years
Wow! How humiliating for those poor children. It amazes me that we are so big on children bullying each other in this country these days as far as going to law suits on children yet you have grown adult school staff behaving this way. If you ask me not only were they bring bullies they have just pin pointed a lot of children to be the target for being bullied and made fun of besides the fact that they went the whole day being starved. Last time i checked starving a child is abuse and neglect. It's sickening to think that this could happen to children in America at school. There should always be an alternative meal to children at school if they have money or not. It's not every the kids fault they don't have money and it may not be completely the parents fault either. I have been in tight situations myself or have you ever forgot a bill was d due in your lifetime. Even the phone company gives you a few weeks and some reminders before "pulling your lunch" so to speak. I pray it doesn't torment those children for to long.
Anna15379901 Anna15379901 3 years
That is basic child abuse ! Absolutely disgusting behaviour
Sarantuya15348226 Sarantuya15348226 3 years
Those responsible adults should not work with children.They are working against the children.They need a lot to learn to behave as adults.
Rosealine1391673148 Rosealine1391673148 3 years
This is very disgraceful. I feel very sad for these children. It is very Disgraceful.
Kelly1376663303 Kelly1376663303 3 years
This was a very powerful point... "Never mind the fact that those poor kids then had nothing to eat and were hungry for the rest of the day (possibly the only meal some would have that day). Disgusting!" I hadn't even considered that possibility, but that's right, some of these children may not have had another meal. This should never happen in this country. Never. Something just has to change. Things are getting worse, not better.
CarlaPassalacqua CarlaPassalacqua 3 years
I was on the lunch program as a child. I remember having tickets to get lunches. I was Always thankful to eat. This made me cry for those hungry children. If I was the lunch lady that day - I would have paid for ALL their lunches!!! I am thankful my kids have graduated & I made sure they weren't ever hungry. I am disappointed with the school's 1 day notice! You obviously need a Better system. This Punishment is Pointeless & CRUEL. Shame on you Uintah :(
CoMMember13609853973607 CoMMember13609853973607 3 years
Never mind the fact that those poor kids then had nothing to eat and were hungry for the rest of the day (possibly the only meal some would have that day). Disgusting!
CoMMember1361171100333 CoMMember1361171100333 3 years
That is just so wrong !!!! They are the school, we children should be taught, enriched, supervised, and protected, so they can learn and thrive. To literally take food from their mouths, is disgusting! The poor children didn't know what was happening and I bet they were starving by the end of the day and being aggro grommets with erratic behaviour because of no food! They should have just sent the children home for the day with a note, rather than do what they did. If they did that to my child, I would throttle them and take them to another school.
Chants1980 Chants1980 3 years
This is sad... cant believe that adults can be so small minded and childish... Bet you it didnt even effect them directly, it was just a power play... Poor kids, hope these staff members gets a rightful punishment!!!
annettehoskins annettehoskins 3 years
First of all most public school lunches are subsidized, and they are served only to the school children and staff. It can't be given to the homeless or a parent that happens to be in the lunchroom and hungry for that matter. What they don't eat that will parish is thrown away. My guess is because it would hamper business and fair market So shame on any school for not feeding any child when there is food that will be thrown out anyway.
Kelly1376663303 Kelly1376663303 3 years
It has zero to do with the children and everything to do with the parents. The kids are obviously already in a tough situation, nice way to make things worse. Unreal - at what point do grown ups, grow up?!!
Hillary558 Hillary558 3 years
This makes me so angry I could spit fire! I usually am not a loss for words, but I don't even know what to say about this....
JaimeJohnson39170 JaimeJohnson39170 3 years
I can't believe living in America this crap is done. Stamp the kids hands & send a note home as a reminder. The schools are damaging these children far more this way. I am so glad to be able to home school now. This is just crazy.
CarolinaBell CarolinaBell 3 years
Starving children and wasting food are totally wrong.
tamikaanderson67737 tamikaanderson67737 3 years
Firstly, I am glad I homeschool my children and this will never happen. Secondly, how is throwing away food ever an answer? How many kids get free lunch that tax payers pay for? You know the kids with negative balances are the ones with parents working like mad to put food in the fridge, taking away a meal at school is cruel! School lunches are a joke as it is, but they could very well be the only calories those kids get that day!
MuniqueSnyder MuniqueSnyder 3 years
I see a bigger problem here....WHAT GOOD IS WASTING THE FOOD GOING TO DO?....This was a tempertantrum by the school staff, it was unhelpful, unprofessional, and irresponsible. Wasting a meal does nothing, and calling people on MONDAY, then PUNISHING CHILDREN on TUESDAY means they put NO effort forth. This is rediculous, heads would roll and jobs would be lost.
MichelleMayes MichelleMayes 3 years
Our school has told children for the next day. My daughter came home with a note and tod me "Ms. C says that I can't have lunch tomorrow if I don't have $" So it wasn't taken from her, it was warning for the next day. To pull it from kids after they have it was so very wrong.
MarieGodbehere MarieGodbehere 3 years
Oh my hell that is horrible that anyone would react that way to a child! I am ashamed that this happened in My state and I hope all the negative attention this receives will ensure that this will never happen again! Kids should never go hungry for any reason! As adults they should have known better. I am so sad for those kids!
AngelRunnion AngelRunnion 3 years
I would be so very angry if this happened to my child. We should NEVER shame a child, especially when it is the parents that are to blame, not the children! They should have sent a letter to the parents giving them time to send in payment with a note saying if it is not paid by ___ date we will not be able to serve a lunch to your child. First of all a child needs food to have the energy to learn. Teachers and school staff should know better. i think someone should lose a job over this situation.
DonnaReed15445 DonnaReed15445 3 years
It wasn't the childrens fault.. they shouldn't have to starve..the school could have handled it differently
erinsmith80515 erinsmith80515 3 years
This happened to my daughter at our school in western New York! Our school has a policy of giving kids who don't have money a cheese sandwich for lunch. My daughter got all the way to the register with her HEALTHY BALANCED LUNCH and was then HUMILIATED by the lunch lady yelling across the cafeteria that she didn't have any money. THEN , the worker took her plate and DUMPED IT IN THE GARBAGE!!! The only comfort I take from this, was when I spoke with the principal, he was livid!!! Assured me that this wouldn't happen again. I hope for the schools sake that it doesn't!!
Doug15336760 Doug15336760 3 years
this would not have happened to my children, I would have paid, even if I had to sacrifice something else, I would have paid. Shame on the school, and shame on the parents for letting this happen to them!
BreanneDecker1391122533 BreanneDecker1391122533 3 years
Instead they should have sent all students home with a letter that owed lunch money saying if payment is not paid in full or some sort of payment arrangement is not made by a certain date then your child(children) will not be served lunch until all payment is collected. It is not the child's fault that the parents can't or will not make the payments, and it is completely wrong to do that to them. It is embarrassing and things like that stick with the child. Children should not have to go hungry because their parents can't pay or even choose not to pay. If that happened to my children I would not be happy one bit. It would have been hard not to go to the school and flip on whoever was responsible for doing such a thing. I hope the school doesn't decide this is the way non payment should be handled. I can think of so many other solutions that would get results than to take a child's lunch away that you just handed them. Completely insane!!
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