SALT LAKE CITY (WRIC)—Roughly 40 students at Uintah Elementary School were in tears on Wednesday after their cafeteria lunches were seized, because their account balances were negative.
The children had already received their lunches when a district Child Nutrition manager instructed cafeteria workers to take the meals away, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
Sophia Isom, a fifth grader at the school, said that not only were the lunches taken away, they were also thrown in the trash.
"So, she took my lunch away and said, ‘Go get a milk,'" Isom told reporters. "I came back and asked, ‘What's going on?' Then she handed me an orange. She said, ‘You don't have any money in your account, so you can't get lunch.'"
Isom's mother, Erica Lukes, said she was unaware of her daughter's negative account balance, but the Salt Lake City School District said parents had been notified.
"There were lots of tears, and it was pretty upsetting for them," Lukes said. "Even if they did try to send the word out, you still don't do that to a child. You don't take a lunch out of their hands."
SLCSD agrees. They wrote on Facebook, "The situation could have and should have been handled in a different manner. We apologize. We are also investigating what type of notification parents may or may not have received prior to this week … The district has specific guidelines for school kitchen managers on how parents should be notified, and we are currently investigating to see if these guidelines were followed correctly. We understand the feelings of upset parents and students who say this was an embarrassing and humiliating situation. We again apologize and commit to working with parents in rectifying this situation and to ensuring students are never treated in this manner again."
By early Thursday afternoon, SLCSD's Facebook apology had received more than 850 comments and was shared nearly 100 times.
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