PLEASANT GROVE — A Utah mom is outraged after she learned school lunch staff fed her daughter pizza that had been placed in a garbage can.
The eighth-grader at Pleasant Grove Junior High has learning disabilities and suffers from diabetes. Wednesday, after taking an insulin dose to account for the pizza, she went to the cafeteria only to be told the meal was gone.
Alpine School District officials said the 10-minute bell had rung and the lunch staff had already cleaned up most of the food. The girl insisted on having pizza until the lunch manager offered her some leftovers that had already been thrown away.
“The pizza was still in the box, but the box was on the very top of the garbage can,” Alpine School District spokesman John Patten said, adding that it was untouched.
Patten said the student off-handedly told a school administrator that she was served lunch out of a garbage can, and that’s when administrators started looking into the matter. The girl also told her mother, who became upset and contacted the school.
The lunch manager was put on administrative leave while the school investigates. The school administrators planned to meet with the girl’s mother Thursday, according to Patten.
He said feeding children from a garbage can is against district, state and federal regulations. “Once it’s discarded, it’s discarded,” Patten said.
He added that though there was a lapse of judgement, the worker was acting out of compassion.
"Under the circumstances, she felt like she really was doing something appropriate according to the needs of that child," Patten said, knowing that she had already taken her insulin so she could have pizza.
To make sure the student’s health needs are met, her aide was reassigned and the girl has a new aide who is medically trained and knows more about appropriate carb counts and related issues.
“Should a situation arise where the No. 1 lunch menu item is not available, they will be able to very quickly make an adjustment and move on from there,” Patten said.
Contributing: Viviane Vo-Duc