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Utah school district seizes lunches from 40 elementary students with meal debts

As many as 40 students at Uintah Elementary in Salt Lake City had their lunches trashed by school authorities because their parents were behind on meal payments.

If you are a parent living in Salt Lake City with a monetary arrears with the Uintah Elementary school’s meal program, you better pay up.

The district acted in IRS-like fashion, swooping in this week and literally seizing lunch trays from approximately 40 students who had sat down for their noon meal, all because their parents were behind in their payments, says CBS News on Thursday.

According to Jason Olsen, a Salt Lake City District spokesman, the child-nutrition department notified officials at the school on Tuesday, after the meals had been served, of the list of so-called delinquents.

Guess how the school responded? Did they perhaps send a note home with the students, or decide to make phone calls or send emails to the parents? Of course not. They decided that the best course of action would be to yank the trays of food from underneath the children’s noses and throw the food out.

"It was pretty traumatic and humiliating," Erica Lukes, one of the children's mothers, 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."

Olson said the school did try to contact the parents to notify them about the overdue accounts on Monday, but failed to reach them all prior to Tuesday’s lunch period.

Olson stated the obvious shortly after the Gestapo lunch monitors snatched the lunch plates from the kids and replaced them with fruit and milk. I see – a fourth grader can have a bowl of fruit and milk on the house, but rotini in sauce with a salad on the side is far too magnificent to be given out gratis.

“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. If students were humiliated and upset that's very unfortunate and not what we wanted to happen.”

After the outcry from parents reached concert decibels, a lengthy apology was later posted to the district's Facebook page, which read in part:

“This 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.”

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