No Lunch for You: Cafeteria Nazis Take Lunches from Kids, Throw Food in the Trash

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Because nothing says “nurturing children” like snatching their lunches out of their wee little hands and throwing the food in the garbage can.

Admittedly, recent efforts to start an after-school dinner program in New Jersey met with adamant disapproval, but it seems as though the pendulum in one Utah school just swung way too far in the opposite direction.

At the behest of the district child nutrition manager, staff at Uintah Elementary School in Salt Lake City, Utah, began notifying parents whose children had a zero or negative balance on their lunch accounts.  This, of course, is understandable and perfectly reasonable.

Jason Olsen, a Salt Lake City District spokesman, said the district’s child-nutrition department became aware that Uintah had a large number of students who owed money for lunches.

As a result, the child-nutrition manager visited the school and decided to withhold lunches to deal with the issue, he said. (source)

That’s all fine and dandy.  The issue, though, is that the kids, who were potentially unaware of the financial issue, stood in line, got their trays of food, and walked to the register, and that is when the situation devolved into a humiliating and wasteful experience.

But cafeteria workers weren’t able to see which children owed money until they had already received lunches, Olsen explained.

The workers then took those lunches from the students and threw them away, he said, because once food is served to one student it can’t be served to another. (source)

What possible purpose could be served by squandering that food?  This is not a particularly economical solution if the school’s concern was unpaid lunch bills. While I completely agree that the children’s accounts needed to be taken care of, the manner in which this was handled was callous, wasteful, and humiliating.

Olson was quick to justify the action.

“They did take that tray away and gave them fruit and a milk,” Olsen said. “We don’t ever let kids go without any food entirely.” (source)

Initially, the school district was 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.” (source)

But such a barrage of complaints was received that now, the district has admitted wrong-doing. A statement released said:

[the] situation could have and should have been handled in a different manner. We apologize.

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. (source)

One mother, Erika Lukes, whose 11-year-old daughter had her cafeteria lunch taken from her, said she was never notified that her daughter’s account was in arrears, nor was she warned that her daughter would not be able to eat from the cafeteria. Lukes said that her daughter told her one of the cafeteria workers cried at the sight of the wasted food and the stunned children.

Fifth-grader Sophia Isom, Lukes’ daughter, was met by a district nutrition manager who was monitoring accounts.

“So she took my lunch away and said, ‘Go get a milk,’ ” Sophia said. “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.’ ”

She said the food was being thrown out. Sophia said the same thing happened to many students, and it was the talk of the lunch period. (source)

One could validly argue that it is the parent’s job to make sure their children’s accounts are up-to-date.  However, the issue should have been dealt with through the parents. Other area school districts handle it differently.

The Jordan School District does not have a set policy, but a spokesman said they will charge elementary school students up to five days, after which the principal will work with the student and family. Their clerks are told specifically not to deny lunch to any students in elementary school. As the students enter middle school and high school, the system becomes stricter and the students are held more accountable. Parents can also make immediate payments on mobile devices.

In the Granite District, when an account hits zero, the student still gets lunch, and the parents get a phone call and a letter. The Canyons District has a similar notification system. (source)

If your child attends public school, it’s getting harder and harder to be sure he or she will be fed every day.  First, Michelle Obama made her crazy caloric restriction rules, and everyone said, “Send a brown bag lunch!”   Then some preschools began disallowing homemade lunches without a doctor’s note. One school even had the audacity to charge parents for “supplementing” with junk food.

One thing in the Utah incident is pretty clear to me: any “child nutrition manager” worthy of the title should be ashamed of making an arbitrary decision to suddenly rip the food from the hands of students and throw it in the trash. You don’t just say, “Surprise!” and then starve and humiliate children  in order to collect payment from the parents.

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

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  • Can no school clerk make a phone call? Or send an email/letter letting them know that the lunch kitty is empty? What possible rationale could this so-called-district-nutrition-staff have for allowing children to be hungry and humiliated?? Could the principle not make a phone call to parents in arrears? (Remember-this is an ADULT problem, not a child problem.) This is obscene. I can only imagine the scorched earth reaction that would have happened when I was a kid! But, school personnel were educated and professional in those days.

    • With the online EduTuit system, parents who store their account information in our system would have been auto-debited, and parents who choose to manually update their accounts would have automatically received an email informing them that their accounts needed to be brought up. Everything is automated and manually accessible by parents to manage their own accounts online. We have offered to waive the $20 per student fee for the remainder of 2014, making it free.

  • Our search for truth and liberty brought us to the Pacific Northwest. Virtually all children (associated with our church) are homeschooled here. Now we cannot imagine giving government schools access to our children. Parents, if there is any way you can homeschool your children, do it.

    • While I understand the high emotion, Diane, to willingly withdraw from society is a dangerous path. That’s exactly what the government wants. You and all other parents should be up in arms, banging down the doors of city hall, not hiding and cringing from Mad Uncle Sam.

      • Homeschoolers aren’t withdrawing from”society”,they are making sure there children get a good education and are not brainwashed by the state!
        The system isn’t legitimate and the more people who find alternatives to their mad souless NWO the better!

        • I agree with Frank 100%, removing our children from a environment that is 100% fear mongering, Police State, and completely devoid of morals or ethics … isn’t running in fear.

          It’s saying that we refuse to allow our children to be harmed by a corrupt government that doesn’t give a crap about us, or our kids.

      • Kate, you confuse ‘hiding in fear’ with ‘circling the wagons’ and being ready to battle. Actually well-informed, independent parents and our homeschoolers are one of the Fed’s biggest nightmares. We have drawn many lines in the sand (from absolute refusal of vaccinations, Common Core, gun confiscation etc.). Our non-501c3 church refuses to be controlled by the IRS. Every Sunday our Pastor (online) takes a public stand from the pulpit against evil government tyranny. The SPLC is an evil mouthpiece of the Federal government. Pastor Baldwin is proud to be on the SPLC’s Top 10 Enemy List’. You call that hiding?

        You are right that Uncle Sam is mad. DC has become Gomorrah. Do you really believe it can be fixed? Good luck. As for us, we ARE TAKING ACTION to protect our children today and prepare for tomorrow to hopefully be able to mold what rises from the ashes of our once great nation. Fear not. And use God’s blessing to provide, protect, and defend our God-given liberties.
        Montana Guy

  • When I was young they collected the pre-paid lunch tickets *before* we got the food.
    Computers prolly make that impossible nowadays? It’s too easy.

    [Not that anyone should be forced to go to co-ed prison.]

    I wonder if the children told each other ‘soup nazi’ jokes the next day?

  • Anything associated with government is rife with idiocy,
    Remember the faces of these people, when TSHTF repay the favors.

  • Makes me wonder what have we become as a species? We are talking of crap food that costs pennies to produce. To humiliate and punish children in our public institutions that we pay for, and then sit by and allow the abuse to continue, is beyond my comprehension!

    • The parents could also do the responsible thing and either pay for the lunch account or pack there own lunch. HMM parents taking resposibility for there own kids and not putting it off on someone else.

  • I heard about something like this not to long ago, and I am as appalled now as I was then. How humiliating. I don’t have children, and my current financial situation is more fortunate than these parents who couldn’t afford the lunch money, but this Cafeteria Nazi situation is so WRONG, on so many levels. School was not this bad when I was attending. Sure, we had green hot dogs, but at least we GOT food without being embarrassed beyond belief in front of our peers. I don’t know what can be done about this, other than publicly (and very LOUDLY!) shaming that school system into changing their methods.

    Honestly, what is WRONG with these people? I swear, if I ever do manage to have children, I will find a way to home school them (not while in MA, though… it’s too over-regulated here, like everything else), to spare them these asinine bureaucrats’ practices.

  • Since this happened to a number of students all during the same lunch period, it seems that perhaps there were a number of students who’s accounts had just run out.
    Could it be that, on a large scale, no contact was made with the parents? Sounds to me like the school dropped the ball in a big way.

  • Re: “In the Granite District, when an account hits zero, the student still gets lunch, and the parents get a phone call and a letter.”

    I think the phone call and making sure you contact a parent is KEY. Not to excuse parental responsibility, but really young kids often lose letters or they bring everything home from school, crammed into a ball of art projects, work samples, and notices once a month.

    One of the schools my child (now homeschooled) attended having a policy where after the parents had been contacted, the kid was given milk, fruit and a pb&j. They could not have the “hot lunch” option, but they did receive a sandwich. They also made this policy explicit, so I think it was fair.

    They also made it clear that this was a last resort, and something they only did for being several meals delinquent and not responding to requests for payment. They also reiterated that kids might qualify for free or reduced lunch if parents circumstances had changed.

    The cafeteria worker probably knows what it feels like to go hungry, and sees a lot of waste on any given day as it is. I agree that throwing out the food was completely ridiculous.

  • Deplorable!
    Who could take a lunch tray from a child like that!? What were these Cafeteria workers thinking? Aren’t they there working a job so they can feed their own families? Sheep blindly following orders without considering the implication of such actions. Makes me incredibly angry. What other orders would they blindly carry out?
    Oh, but wait, they did at least give the kids fruit and milk, right? Are they trying to say the GMO corn dog cost more than the pesticide laden apple and pus filled milk?

    Having lived in Utah with a child who attended public school there (briefly), I regret to say this policy doesn’t come as a shock. In the elementary my child attended, the lunch room policy was absolutely no sharing of food. Any students caught sharing food had their lunch thrown away and they were not allowed to go outside for after lunch recess. Punishment for sharing!

    Before anyone points out the food allergy issue, let me just say my own child has food allergies and we packed a lunch every day because of it. My child knew to ask about food ingredients before eating anything and if in doubt, to kindly decline the offer. Most children with food allergies are taught, and heed the warning, not to play roulette with food.
    Teachers handed out candy in classrooms as rewards without any restrictions or guidelines for doing so. Children brought commercially made and pre packaged snacks for classroom activities and nobody bothered to be concerned with that either.

  • As a military brat, I lived in a lot of places/gone to school, from the sixties, until the eighties, when I graduated from H.S. As a kindergartener in the sixties in Phoenix, AZ, they gave us milk and fruit for free. During my years in elementary, at Aviano AFB, I took a lunch box and thermos. Back in the states I took money each and every day to my middle school, and high school, to pay for my lunch, or left the campus to eat at a restaurant/ fast food place. I never had an issue with people taking my food away, and throwing it in a garbage can….

    • That is because your parents received money from the government. You government folks take care of each other.

      • Excuse me?

        I am ‘flabbergasted’ at your completely OUTRAGEOUS comment!

        When Edward says he’s a ‘military brat’, that means one or both of his parents served in the military. That does not mean that Edward was on WELFARE (as you just IMPLIED)!

        I can’t imagine any one equating “honorable MILITARY SERVICE” with being …”That is because your parents ‘received money from the government ….You government folks take care of each other.”

        • For ‘future reference’ SHAWN when one says I was a ‘military brat’ …..your comment should be ….

          “Wow, I thank your parent for his or her service.”

  • Government….can’t find its arse with both hands and a search-light.

    I cleaned that one up a tad. 🙂

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