A New Debt-Collection Low: Taking Lunch Away From Schoolchildren

A “child-nutrition manager” in Salt-Lake City, notified of an unusually-large number of students who owed money for lunch at Uintah Elementary School, came up with a brilliant plan: take away their lunches. Students with delinquent school-lunch accounts went through the lunch line as usual, but when their card was declined at the register, the lunch-room staff tossed their meal in the trash.

Several parents told the Salt Lake Tribune that they were not notified that they owed money for their children’s lunches. It doesn’t seem like anyone was notified that their children would have their lunches taken away from them, either. The school has said it is “currently investigating to see if [notification] guidelines were followed correctly.”

Students whose lunches were taken away were given “a piece of fruit and a milk,” instead. So at least they didn’t starve. But hey, it’s not like children’s nutrition is important, or anything.

A spokesperson for the Salt Lake City District was initially unrepentant:

Olsen said he would not describe the tactic as a mistake.

“If students were humiliated and upset,” Olsen said, “that’s very unfortunate and not what we wanted to happen.”

The district later apologized and committed to “working with parents in rectifying this situation and to ensuring students are never treated in this manner again.” At press time, it was not clear what would be required to ensure students never have their lunches taken away again other than not taking their lunches away ever again.

Featured image: “20120907-FNS-LSC-0346” by U.S. Department of Agriculture is licensed CC BY 2.0. The image has been cropped.