School Seizes Food From Little Kids With Unpaid Cafeteria Bills

Two school district employees are now on paid leave over the incident at a Salt Lake City elementary school.

Bullies stealing kids’ lunches has long been the crux of jokes by stand-up comedians and cartoonists.

But it was no joke when adult school employees seized school lunches from as many as 40 elementary school kids whose parents had fallen behind on paying their school lunch bills, reports The Salt Lake Tribune.

It happened Tuesday after school officials were unable to contact some parents by telephone to alert them that their kids’ lunch tabs were overdue, says the Tribune.

The Tribune reported on the school district’s explanation:

… cafeteria workers weren’t able to see which children owed money until they had already received lunches ….

The workers then took those lunches from the students and threw them away … 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.

There has been a public outcry over the incident, which so far has resulted in a school cafeteria manager and a district supervisor being placed on paid leave, says The Associated Press. The wire service says the number of children whose lunches were seized was about 32.

State Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, called the incident “bullying,” when he and state Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake, City, visited the school soon after the incident, the Tribune said.

Do you find this behavior inappropriate or outrageous? Sound off in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

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  • biker bob

    The new American way: if you don’t or will not work you still get all the goodies. Who pays for it? The good old taxpayer.

    • N_Jessen

      Whether or not the recipients’ parents were the leaches, or just struggling a little with their budgets, there were other ways of addressing this. But the “new American way” is apparently a quick leap to nastiness or malice.

  • Miss Butterfly

    Biker Bob – since when does making children pay for what their parents do solve anything?

  • Miss Butterfly

    The behavior of these adult school employees was both inappropriate and outrageous. Not only were they bullying and intimidating the children, they were also wasting food by throwing it away. The “parents” had fallen behind in paying the lunch bills. Since when do we punish “children” for the wrongdoings of their parents? When I was in school, if you could not pay for your lunch, you washed dishes in the kitchen – 15 minutes to eat, the rest of your lunch period collecting, cleaning, and putting dishes in the dishwasher. You had earned that free lunch. And to biker bob, the article does not say anything about this involving a government program. It is about parents who were not up to date with their school lunch bill.

  • Julia

    I cannot justify not giving a child in school lunch. Wouldn’t it be more practical for lunch to be included in the school budget the way textbooks are? There is no good reason to force a child to go without a lunch while surrounded by peers who have lunches.

  • Michael Smiley Gawthrop

    I’m still trying to figure out the logic of this… they were trying to reduce their losses on food by throwing away food?
    Really, there are many more efficient ways they could have handled this, have notes to hand to the students to take home when they leave, call the parents, or even better yet, set up the system so they can check the balance before giving out food… a “I’m sorry, but because your parents haven’t paid for this month all we can give you is fruit and milk” (which, btw isn’t a healthy meal by itself, it’s a good part of a meal, but without any protein, carbs, or vegetable also it is hardly a quality healthy meal) still gets the same message across and is far less demeaning to the student.
    I’m sorry, but ” we couldn’t tell who had a balance before serving them” is the worst excuse ever… all that shows is a gross incompetence in the administrators who set up the system.

  • Jake

    So, because the bills were not paid, they gave parents no notice of the bills being overdue, THEY COULD NOT EVEN TELL UNTIL THE LUNCH WAS SERVED which kids had overdue payments, so then they take the food, throw it away, which wasted money THEN STILL gave them milk and fruit, which cost more money, YET they were upset over an overdue bill? They probably threw away $5+ worth of food, then gave another $2.00 away to the kids?

    This make no sense to me.

    • MrGCalcium

      I agree with Jake and add a few more thing, we put the working members on paid leave. Gee that sounds like screw up and get a paid vacation to me. What a deal. We starve the kids, Maybe we need to deduct the cost of the food that was thrown away to the employees, to include the cost of the Fruit and Milk. Perhaps the school needs a better program of warning parents that the kids food bill is running out.

      • Jake

        I mean I could see them allowing the kids to have the food, send notes to make a simple phone call to the parents to let them know, tell them they have a week to get caught up, or ask if there is a problem and see what can be done to help the family.

        It was just stupid and just tasteless that they threw perfectly good food in the garbage.

  • Coolgm

    This makes me so angry. It’s outrageous. How can you look a hungry child in the eyes while taking their lunch away. It’s barbaric. These employees should no longer have a job. They lack compassion. I’d rather be fired then do this.

  • Carl Zauche

    How do you propose schools deal with deal with dead beat parents that ignore notice after notice and seem to be surprised when they don’t send money and their kids’s accounts are in arrears.

    Duh! They don’t list the kids names on a bulletin board. The child knows their account is in arrears. The parent knows they are in arrears. The child has been told multiple times that if they don’t bring money they are to take the ‘alternate’ lunch and yet some of these children what feel as entitled as their parents take a lunch anyway leaving the worker at the register to be the heavy. Many of these children are on free or reduced but insist on taking an extra milk that isn’t covered.

    Why do we keep pampering parents that misbehave!!!

  • Johns.Opinion

    I were a parent today, Knowing how everyone screws the system. I would
    not pay my bill either. Cause of people like you encourage people to do
    the wrong thing (Not pay your bill). Free lunches for all despite
    Moochers should get fruit and milk only.

    • Selena Barton

      That would be all well and good if it were those types of parents being punished, not children. I have a feeling if it was your kid and the clerical error was the issue, you’d be beating down the school’s doors for not feeding your child. I just don’t understand how anyone could say that a small child (this behavior includes kindergarten students too) is to be punished for the parents’ failure to pay. I can’t see how it is right to give a 5 – 6 year old a piece of fruit at 10:30 in the morning and expect that to be acceptable (as there are regulations to the quality of meal the students receive that is completely ignored here since they call it a snack) to hold them until the bus gets them home at possibly 4 or later in the evening.

      Punishment should be on the guilty, not on the innocent bystanders. In this case, those children were singled out publicly and deprived of healthy meals. Those are all tactics for breaking an adult in interrogation. It takes more than one meal for most adults, but children aren’t even fully developed mentally and need proper nutrition. These kids may end up going to school now every day wondering if they get to eat or not especially after the school had to admit they had clerical errors in the mix. That kind of stress isn’t good, but the damage is done.

  • mzmony

    Just guessing but the employees were probably following instructions. Paid leave solves the problem of the school being required because of the uproar to ‘do something’. Also don’t be quick to judge the ‘deadbeat’ parents because these cards allow kids to get breakfast and snacks in many schools, so the parents may not have been aware. The school has a faulty system that could be corrected by swiping the card at the beginning of line to get a balance. Or, go back to tickets like we had so you knew if you didnt have a ticket you didnt get in line.

  • Todd in Alaska

    This is what will make children make bad choices and in the end because they are hungry not able to focus in School as someone whom was deprived of food and severally abused as a kid I find this appalling and do feel that those children should be provided meals for the rest of the yrs they attend that school or are in that school district for the humiliation and shame that those kids must have endured. I can be reached at [email protected]

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