U.S. News


Utah School District Apologizes For Denying Lunches

A worker at Uintah Elementary School took away lunches from students for having zero or negative balances on their school lunch accounts.
Posted at 9:30 PM, Jan 30, 2014

A Salt Lake City elementary school has drawn the ire of an entire community after students had their lunches taken away earlier in the week because they had zero balances on their school lunch accounts.

School workers at Uintah Elementary school reportedly took lunches from up to 40 students and threw them away after noticing a large number of children still owed money. (Via NPR)

"So she took my lunch away and said, 'Go get a milk,' and I'm like, 'Okay,' and then I come back up and I'm like 'What's going on?,' and she gave me an orange, and then she's like, 'you don't have any money in your account so you can't get lunch.'" (Via KSL-TV)

"I mean, it's ridiculous. You should never deny a child food just because their parents, you know, forgot to pay or something. It's happened to me." (Via KTVX)

The Salt Lake City School District posted an apology to its Facebook page Wednesday admitting "the situation should have and could have been handled in a different manner." 

The post also explained a child nutritionist visited the school Monday, noticed the zero or negative balances, attempted to notify parents and then on Tuesday, gave children who owed money fruit and milk in lieu of full lunches. (Via KUTV)

The school district's principal said this won't happen again.

But a former lunch worker told The Salt Lake Tribune this isn't the first time student lunches have been withheld, adding some parents "earn too much to qualify for the federal free-and-reduced lunch program and still struggle to pay the $2 to $3 daily lunch fee." 

A spokesperson for the district said it is now working to review the notification system to better alert parents when school lunch accounts are in the red.