There is no such thing as a free lunch, especially at Uintah Elementary, where administrators confiscated lunches from students and threw them in the trash.
The Salt Lake City school realized that the parents of many students had not paid the balances on their lunch accounts, and a child nutrition manager from the school district was sent to intervene earlier this week.
Because the children don’t go to the computer to pay for their meals until after they are already served, many received lunches despite their outstanding balances. Administrators then felt they had no choice but to seize the lunches from students who had not paid. Health rules forbid officials from reusing food that has already been served, so the lunch trays were simply thrown away.
Hungry students did receive a piece of fruit and milk so that they didn’t starve, according to MY FOX NY.
“She took my lunch away and said, ‘Go get a milk,'” said 11-year-old Sophia Isom in a statement to NBC News. “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.'”
When parents found out, they were furious.
“It was pretty traumatic and humiliating,” said Erica Lukes, Isom’s mother, in a statement.
After the outcry, officials quickly admitted that they had taken the wrong course of action.
“We again apologize and commit to working with parents in rectifying this situation and to ensuring students are never treated in this manner again,” said the school district in a statement.
Uintah Elementary did not immediately respond to a request for comment.