“Insane” is one way to describe what happened at a Salt Lake City elementary school Tuesday when lunch was literally taken out of the hands of a reported 40 children and thrown straight into the garbage because the children had no money left in their lunch accounts.
The cruel and unusually harsh punishment reportedly left children “embarrassed,” cafeteria employees at Uintah Elementary in tears, parents freaking out and the school district humiliated, and now, apologetic.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune report, which described the nightmare situation that occurred Tuesday:
Jason Olsen, a Salt Lake City District spokesman, said the district’s child-nutrition department became aware that Uintah had a large number of students who owed money for lunches.
As a result, the child-nutrition manager visited the school and decided to withhold lunches to deal with the issue, he said.
But cafeteria workers weren’t able to see which children owed money until they had already received lunches, Olsen explained.
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.
The district attempted to contact parents with balances via phone Monday and Tuesday, Olsen said, but weren’t able to reach them all before the child-nutrition manager decided to take away the students’ lunches.
The Salt Lake City School District took to Facebook Tuesday evening to explain and apologize for the incident.
The post read, 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.
Needless to say, the Facebook commenters didn’t want to hear excuses and apologies. They want to see people held responsible, if not outright fired, over such inexcusably abusive, not to mention wasteful, behavior.
And who can disagree?
Watch a fifth-grade student describe what happened via KSL-TV: