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Comments about ‘Salt Lake school officials blame system glitch for lunch debacle’

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Published: Wednesday, Feb. 5 2014 8:40 p.m. MST

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Eliyahu
Pleasant Grove, UT

While it is, indeed, a computer issue that kept the parents from being notified, it wasn't a computer that took those lunches away and threw them in the garbage. It's all good and well for the school district to state that they are investigating to find how the order to take those lunches was given, but just how big a chain of command do they have to deal with? A reasonable person could interview everyone connected with the decision within a couple hours and have an answer.

Utah Dem
Ogden, UT

We all know that the leadership in the SL district knows who gave the direction to toss the lunches, we also know that the district, the child nutrition program personnel know they messed up and no there is no dignified way out of this. Just get with all the kids and their parents and apologize, give the kids one free lunch and have the computer software adjusted immediately. And to the parents - if you don't get an email notification of your child's lunch account just check it every Sunday to make sure they are at least covered for the week.

dmcvey
Los Angeles, CA

A glitch may have been responsible for showing that the kids hadn't paid, but it wasn't responsible for giving the food to those children then taking it away from them and throwing the food in the trash--that was a really bad decision by a human being.

dmcvey
Los Angeles, CA

raybies, I actually don't have a problem with the idea that kids have a "right" to a school lunch. As a parent, it's fine if you want to send a lunch with your child, but I think children should have a "right" to at least one meal a day.

hamrdown
OREM, UT

This is all hogwash about the parents not being notified - they are just trying to re-direct the blame.

As a parent, I have used this system for my children's schools in Orem (Elementary, Jr High, and High School) and I am sent a notice anytime any of the accounts reaches $5. We have used this system for many years now and I have always been notified when my children's accounts reach $5 (or less).

GZE
SALT LAKE CITY, UT

hamrdown, If you will read the article, you will see that Salt Lake District's old program did the same thing. They now have a NEW program that does not notify parents unless they specifically ask to be notified - something parents were not told.

That's A Good One
Salt Lake City, UT

Funny to me that parents are passing the buck because of their inability to keep track of their own kid's school lunch account balance. Do these same parents just spend money from their personal checking accounts until the bank comes and takes away their checkbook or debit card at the checkstand in Walmart? Or are they responsible to know their balance and not spend more than they've pre-deposited before they head into Wally World?

That's A Good One
Salt Lake City, UT

1) No excuse for punishing and embarrassing the kids because of irresponsible parents and idiotic decisions by adults to trash meals.
2) Parents know their kids are eating school lunch, they know how much lunch costs, they know how much they've paid-ergo-it isn't rocket science to know when your kid's account is at zero-take the responsibility to put money in the account, or send a brown bag to school with until you have money in the account! It doesn't take a genius to manage a school lunch payment account. Sheesh, it would be interesting to see the checkbook management skills of some of these parents.
3) The forced participation in the MyPayment+ program is a racket. The system charges a fee every time you deposit money into your kid's account. So you not only pay for the meal but you pay for the privilege of making it easy for the school to electronically know when it's time to take a kid's lunch away and throw it in the garbage. (Oh, and it's quite easy to sign up for account balance notifications. A middle schooler could show parents how with ease)
4) See #1 above

Shawnm750
West Jordan, UT

This doesn't address the bigger problem which is: The district's lunch distribution system is the true failure. As I understand it, the kids to whom this happened had made it ALL the way through the lunch line, had their food dispensed and were THEN told they didn't have enough money in their accounts. To me, this method only facilitates the same situation happening again. The district needs to modify their process so that it's determined BEFORE they receive their food that account has insufficient funds and that they've exceeded the maximum number of free lunches they can have.

I also agree that parents do need to be more active in managing their kids accounts, but in this case, parents were accustomed to the old system and both they and the district weren't adequately educated on the difference between the new and old systems. The bottom line is that this incident has revealed some flaws in the current lunchroom procedure and now the district has a chance to improve it and we can all move on.

lledwards38
Canandaigua, NY

I certainly believe in personal responsibility and accountability. But why should the children be held responsible for the failure of the parents to keep the lunch account current? And what lesson in "personal responsibility and accountability" did the children learn when their lunches were taken away and tossed in the trash?

That was just plain stupid. No way the computer glitch is responsible for that decision. How about some consequences for the people who did it

Given the current emphasis on nutritious lunches, where does a box of milk and an apple fit in that plan?

Hey It's Me
Salt Lake City, UT

Very first paragraph computer payment system glitch the reason "several" students . . . I thought the first reports we heard were way more than several students that got their lunches taken away. They blow it off like it was not very many and no big deal and oh, by the way it was the computers fault. Did the computer make and sign school policy? Just asking. I think I would have risked my job and given them the lunches. Then I would have taken them to court to save my job if I had to. Nobody was willing to stand up and Chose The Right that day? How sad!

Midvaliean
MIDVALE, UT

@Fred44
No, the parents should not assume responsibility for having their kids harassed. We live in a civil society, If you owe me money I dont' go intimidate your kids; that is what a mobster would do. I send a bill or handle like a civil person.
People dont' pay their bills all the time, that is a part of life. Your system for debt collection SHOULD ABSOLUTELY NOT include shaming children.

Strider303
Salt Lake City, UT

There is no "right" to a school lunch. Should a child or teenager have a meal in the middle of the day, yes. It is the parent's responsibility to provide that meal, either send it with the child/teenager or arrange to purchase it at school.

If you remove the federal government from the equation you remove several layers of bureaucracy automatically. Delete the state and leave the district to organize how to provide a noon meal service. Funding can be by meal ticket, electronic balance or cash - it is legal tender for all debts public and private.

IMO a limited, simple menu would suffice. The school meal is not meant to be a restaurant but a food stop in the day. A bite to eat, some down time and then back to the day's business - learning.

I have made my breakfast since Junior High and lunch too, or carried money to purchase a lunch. We need to encourage parents and children to be more self reliant and stop waiting for someone else to provide for their needs.

3grandslams
Iowa City, IA

It's pretty clear that the action towards the students was carried because of District policy. The District needs to be held accountable and take the burden off the school employee who was following policy.

Kralon
HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA

Wow, what a payment system, it made the decision then got up and took those kids' lunch away!

Fred44
Salt Lake City, Utah

Midvaliean,

So if I send my kid to McDonald's to get lunch with no money and they refuse to serve him, McDonald's is harassing and shaming him? If my kid walks across the street to a convenience store for lunch and grabs some chips and a milk a banana and sandwich and clerk says no you can't have those because you didn't pay for them, the store has harassed and shamed him and should just give him the food and come up with a better method for collection?

As I said the school employees could have done a much better job of handling the situation, but why do we come down on them for a mistake that is being corrected, and place zero accountability on the parents who didn't pay their bills?

Kind of hypocritical don't you think. Both sides where at fault, but only one is held accountable.

IDSpud
Eagle, ID

dmcvey, to say that children have a "right" to at least one meal a day needs to be qualified. That "one meal" is not the school's responsibility to provide. Children have a "right" to be cared for by their parents or designated guardians. Parents, don't have a "right" to abdicate their responsibility to anyone else for meeting their children's needs, unless prior agreement between the parent and guardian has been established and agreed upon.

Clearly, the current system is broken. No meal should be taken away once in a child's hands. It would be a noble thing for the school to have procedural exceptions to follow (a safety net of sorts) for when a child shows up to the line without the means to pay. But ultimate responsibility for any child rests with their parents or designated guardians.

VST
Bountiful, UT

From the Article: “District officials have said they are still investigating whether taking lunches away was proper protocol in this situation.”

You have got to be kidding me.

These officials should already be smart enough to know they already have the answer for “proper protocol.” You DON’T embarrass the kids by taking away their lunch and throw it in the garbage. You work it out DIRECTLY with the parents or their guardians.

The Rock
Federal Way, WA

So just how did throwing lunches in the trash accomplish anything?
Did it save any money? No.
Did it reduce labor? Nope, it increased it.

These things always hit the news. The education establishment should consider how it will look to the public before they do something stupid.

windsor
City, Ut

Even if it was a system glitch, it was a 'human' decision by someone to take food away from kids and throw it in the trash.

Wrong wrong.

Feed the kids--- and work out any problems, discrepancies, concerns, or glitches in a sane, kind and rational way later.

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