Salt Lake City snatched 40 lunches from hungry students and threw them away because their meal cards weren’t paid up. Sadly, other schools do the same.
Picture this. School-age children with rumbling tummies move their styrofoam trays in an orderly lunch line. It’s Tuesday, and at Uintah Elementary School in Salt Lake City that means one thing for excited youngsters: pizza day. Students fill their trays with deep-dish pepperoni slices and napa salad and head to the lunch lady for checkout.That’s when tragedy struck for about 40 of Utah’s smallest residents, according toThe Salt Lake Tribune. If a student’s lunch money account wasn’t paid up, the cafeteria workers were instructed to confiscate the child’s lunch. Because of sanitary issues the lunch couldn’t be given to another student, so it was thrown away instead, while a hungry child watched.
The child was then sent on his or her way, with a piece of fruit and a carton of milk.
The problem that the district-imposed hunger strike was meant to fix was a “large number of students” with zero or negative balances in the accounts that kids use to purchase the $2.00 lunches. Staff began a campaign to call parents to settle up, but not all the calls had been made by lunchtime and for those kids, it was tough luck.
The Utah lunch line story has gone viral, and for good reason—it’s almost inconceivable. In what world does this begin to make sense? Just how much could a parent owe that would warrant embarrassing and basically, starving, small children? And why would you punish a child for the transgressions of his parent?
Parents described the incident as “traumatic and humiliating” for their kids. Lunch ladies were reportedly in tears being forced carry out a directive that goes against the entire purpose of their work.