School District Seizes Lunches From 40 Elementary Students in Debt

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.

According to Jason Olsen, a Salt Lake City District spokesman, the child-nutrition department realized some students' families had outstanding balances on Monday, but the department's manager wasn't able to notify the school until after lunch had been served on Tuesday. So the department did what any humane, understanding person would do: they snatched the meals from the children and threw them in the trash.

"It was pretty traumatic and humiliating," Erica Lukes, one of the children's mother, told the Salt Lake Tribune. "I think it's despicable. These are young children that shouldn't be punished or humiliated for something the parents obviously need to clear up."

Olsen said school authorities attempted to contact parents about the debt on Monday and Tuesday morning but failed to reach them all before Tuesday's lunch period.

"Something's not working, and that's what the school and child-nutrition department are going to work on together," Olsen said. "This can be easily prevented."

He stopped short of apologizing,though, saying only, "If students were humiliated and upset that's very unfortunate and not what we wanted to happen."

But a lengthy apology was later posted to the district's Facebook page.

"This situation could have and should have been handled in a different manner. We apologize," the post reads. "We understand the feelings of upset parents and students who say this was an embarrassing and humiliating situation."