School lunches being thrown away leads to threats, officials say

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  • spicey saltlakecity, UT
    Feb. 7, 2014 9:02 p.m.

    This has to be one of the most cold hearted act perpetrated on the you of Utah. This needs to be dealt with swiftly and justly for the children.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    Feb. 6, 2014 5:00 p.m.

    Tax paid lunches being thrown away?

    Someone else should pay the bill.

  • mp_wood Candler, NC
    Feb. 6, 2014 12:14 p.m.

    Budgets are an issue here, but so are the reasons the balance is not being paid. That's the real story and the solution that needs to be investigated. There are so many reasons that could be happening starting from slack parents to poverty. My question is why school systems aren't referring these students to a counselor when this happens? You wouldn't talk about any other discipline or personal issues in front of their peers - so why is this ok?

    You need a trained professional not a lunch lady to handle the wide variety of issues that could be the reason for the delinquency. Parents would step up if they felt like they were going to get in trouble but they aren't with this system - only the kids. And if there's a financial need, parents can be helped to navigate available support systems or agencies.

  • nanato12 Spanish Fork, UT
    Feb. 5, 2014 9:52 p.m.

    In my day (admittedly a long, long time ago) we didn't have school lunch until we got to junior high. We actually went home for lunch, since our moms were usually home. If on the rare occasion we had to eat lunch at school, we packed a lunch and the teacher had to sit in the classroom where we ate our lunch. Life was so much simpler then. If you don't like the system, pack your kid a lunch. It's not that hard and you will probably have better luck with him eating it.

  • anneray Kosciusko, Mississippi
    Feb. 4, 2014 2:39 p.m.

    To take food from children and throw it away should be a major criime. I am ashamed of those adults(?) who did that. Shame on them. No, I don't live in Utah but I do have, at the present time, 5 greatgrandchldren who do live there. If this happened in MS parents of those children who were embarrassed would be at that school in a heartbeat and woe to those who participated. Milk and fruit is not a meal so children went hungry. Saying 'sorry' is not enough. This frightens me and makes me cry.

  • LivinLarge Bountiful, UT
    Feb. 4, 2014 2:18 p.m.

    When I was a student we paid for our lunches a week in advance. What is wrong with this concept?

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    Feb. 4, 2014 12:16 p.m.

    Re Strider303

    If families were all responsible for their own children, there would be no public schools.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    Feb. 4, 2014 12:13 p.m.

    We provide free education, perhaps its time to consider free lunches so poor parents aren't stressed out and this kind of thing doesn't keep happening.

  • Strider303 Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 4, 2014 11:48 a.m.

    Traditionally parents were responsible for their children, that included food at school. You could pack/brown bag or buy the lunch. Yes I realize the "traditional family" is now a minority and a memory but it did work to provide for the children without much interference from the Federal Government.

    So what do we do now? Let the Federal Bureaucracy lull us into carnal "security" by providing everything they tell us we need/want? A possible solution would be to not accept the Federal dollars, thereby relinquishing Federal control. Let the district devise their own lunch system and if you don't like it, pack your own. The district could simplify the menu, dump the flash frozen, warmed up high carbohydrate artery clogging fare for sandwiches and fruit and milk/juice. It's a lunch folks.

    Tattered and mangled families and their offspring do need help, so do ignorant parents (ignorant meaning uneducated as to their role) but we have a social service system to help them, or at least I am told that is what Social Services are for.

    What we see here is the Law of Unintended Consequences in action, "No good deed goes unpunished."

  • 1covey Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 4, 2014 11:22 a.m.

    Firstly, hot lunches: Meals are not cooked at the school, as they were in my day-years and years ago; Meals are "warmed" at the school. Secondly, this problem would go away, if the meal were paid for prior to serving; schools have the information on who is paid up; meals could be paid on daily or whatever basis; but paid prior to service. Reduced meals-fruit and milk are available to those unable to pay. Paying prior to being served used to be the policy. It needs to be re-instituted. Throwing away food! Bad enough when the kids do it. Unfortunately, this seems to be an American tradition. I have seen it too often.

  • JBQ Saint Louis, MO
    Feb. 4, 2014 10:38 a.m.

    The school district made a big mistake. The mistake was not to deny but on how it was handled. It has been documented that no letters of warning were sent out. The school district is a business. However as someone who has worked in many school districts, I sense the problem. Certain groups of children receive free lunch through government assistance. Other groups cannot receive the same aid based on ethnicity. This is causing friction and frustration. Because of this, there are militant groups building up who are based in the Northwest. These groups have legitimate gripes based on governmental policies. However, violence is troubling and threats are a type of violence. Police officers are a visible symbol of government. They are being shot at an alarming rate by elements of the drug culture which now passes through all ethnic realms of society. There are no jobs and men are turning to selling drugs to support wives and families.

  • PookyBear84010 KAYSVILLE, UT
    Feb. 4, 2014 10:21 a.m.

    You know, the kids probably would get over this in no time flat is their parents would simply quit inflating it beyond all proportion. The school made a foolish mistake. They are trying to fix it. Everybody stop having a cow. I find it very ironic that a story about how students shouldn't be publicly shamed results in school personnel begin publicly shamed.

  • Heidi T. Farmington, UT
    Feb. 4, 2014 10:21 a.m.

    The Federal Government has always been involved in the school lunch programs across the nation and, the more the Federal Government regulates and governs our schools on every level, the more rules and regulations we encounter from Washington. Too bad it's too late for our State governments to take back what should be theirs--the education of our kids in neighborhood schools. We should be holding government and parents responsible in this situation...The Federal Government for their control and mindless rules and the parents for keeping track of their children's lunch money while becoming involved in the schools where their children attend.

  • Eliot Genola, UT
    Feb. 4, 2014 10:07 a.m.

    Yes, GaryO we can see where you are trying to take us with your logical fallacy. Here is an argument for a mandated lunch program. Feed the children so they will have healthy brains and learn to reject such muddled thinking while at the same time rejecting their status as helpless victims of an uncaring system.

  • PhotoSponge nampa, ID
    Feb. 4, 2014 10:02 a.m.

    This is a perfect example of why you don't want the Fed. Government involved. The whole education system needs to be turned back over to the states; including the lunch program. The way it is now, the children don't get enough to eat by what is served them in the cafeteria anyway. And yet they continue to charge them $2 for their inadequate lunch.

    Parents, get on the ball and pay for your kid's lunch! Why aren't you doing it? If you are a working parent, I'm sure you're eating lunch somewhere. If you're not a working parent, then get up and make your child's lunch. Be the grown up here....

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Feb. 4, 2014 9:56 a.m.

    The action of depriving people of food because they have no money sounds like a mindset created by conservatives.

  • katy salt lake city, ut
    Feb. 4, 2014 9:54 a.m.

    Seems to me this could have all been avoided if the district hadn't changed the way payment for lunches is done. In the past, kids brought $ to school weekly to pay for their lunches. If families can't afford to pay the $2.00 for lunches there is a free and reduced lunch plan they can sign up for. Schools then don't have to deal with students building up credit deficits because parents don't send money for their kid's lunches.

    The bottom line is parents are lax or forgetful in tracking the amount a student has in his lunch fund. Although from my experience, notices are sent/mailed home when the lunch fund no longer has any money in it.

    It's not right for elementary students to be embarrassed by having their lunches dumped. It's not their fault their lunches haven't been paid for. Parents should be more responsible.

  • Hey It's Me Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 4, 2014 9:44 a.m.

    I worked in an elementary school in another state. The kindergarten kids that stayed a whole day, had to take a school lunch. I had to make sure they took the lunch and milk. I don't know why the government says they have to take a pathetic lunch of greasy cold food that's supposed to be hot. guess how many of those went straight into the garbage on the way to their tables. The government can't make them eat it, they can make them take it. Every kid in my class but maybe 5 threw them away. What a waste of money. One mom came in to get her son for an apt. and she said how awful his lunch looked and I told her he never eats it, so she said she would start packing. I bet if the parents saw and tasted and felt how cold the hot lunches are they would all pack their kids lunch.

  • K Mchenry, IL
    Feb. 4, 2014 9:17 a.m.

    Not every parent has email or internet access. I got a warning about a negative balance and I send my kid lunch. It is suggested that every parent out $10 in the account anyway and where there is $5 you get an email. I have no idea how my son could have taken anything out. We don't even have a lunch code set up. Which brings us to basic human error. Obviously I paid for someone's stuff. A number of parents claim they were never notified of a deficit. Mistakes are made. Garbage in garbage out.

  • bdjedi28 West Jordan, UT
    Feb. 4, 2014 8:55 a.m.

    The food is getting tossed because if the workers don't take the lunch the government auditors will take their jobs. It is unfortunately not the lunch workers fault. It is a result of the mandates from the federal government. Reduce the level control the government had on this. The poor lunch workers are doing a job of policing that wouldn't be in their job description if Big Brother didn't demand it. The policy needs to be looked at and changed rather quickly.
    With that said I also feel that it isn't all the governments fault. If our kids have a negative balance then we need to do something about that. Blame so often is only thrown out one way. Let's do what we can to help both side improve instead of blaming everything on just one side.

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    Feb. 4, 2014 8:40 a.m.

    netjes, the Federal Government is involved because the School Lunch Act is a highly successful Progressive Federal Program signed into law by Democratic President Harry S Truman in 1946 to address the problem of poor nutrition in children, which affected masses of potential enlistees in WWII. Although these young men volunteered to go to war, they were rejected because they had been rendered unfit by the near-starvation they experienced as children during the Great Depression. The Federal School Lunch Program was touted by Progressives as necessary to national security back then, but it was still opposed by millions of Conservatives who thought government involvement in feeding children was unconstitutional.

    And guess what . . . Utah is a heavily Conservative state, with the Tea Party in control of the Republican Party.

    Now we have Utahns physically interceding between children and this progressive Federal program.

    You can draw your own conclusions as to why.

  • rsrino Orem, UT
    Feb. 4, 2014 8:33 a.m.

    I don't know why this is so difficult for the schools around here. We just moved from Connecticut. We received an email when our daughter's account went negative. We were able to go to a website and add to her account online. We were never uninformed about what the balance was. Using letters is very outdated.

  • Eliyahu Pleasant Grove, UT
    Feb. 4, 2014 8:31 a.m.

    "As log as you pay for your kids meals the government has no saying [sic] and [sic] what they can eat."

    As long as the child eats in the school cafeteria, the government does have a say in what they eat. It's not a restaurant with an unlimited menu of choices. It's a cafeteria, and the "government" decides what is going to be served. Okay, it's the school district that decides, but they're still a governmental agency. Whether you pay for it or it's part of a subsidized lunch program, it's still the school that makes the decision as to what your kids have to eat that day. If you don't approve, you do have the option to buy a lunch box or a package of lunch bags and prepare a lunch for your children every day. However, unless kids have changed since I was in school, most of them aren't going to be thrilled about getting a sandwich while their friends are enjoying a hot meal.

  • rural girl Orangeville, UT
    Feb. 4, 2014 8:19 a.m.

    "Why is the federal government involved?" Because it is a federal government program! There are rules that need to be followed. We might not like it, but it is what it is.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    Feb. 4, 2014 8:03 a.m.

    If they are going to toss the food, why not let the kid eat and then take him/her aside and deal with it instead of carrying out a public humiliation? But this does not in any way excuse some meathead from making threats. Good grief!

  • SlopJ30 St Louis, MO
    Feb. 4, 2014 7:42 a.m.

    I don't think there's any way to argue two things: (1) it's the parents' responsibility to make sure the kids have money in their account, and (2) dealing with it in the way this school did was unfathomably dumb. If we're laying blame in this particular instance, though, the school official has to take the hit.

    Look, I have four kids in public school. They buy 1-2 days a week and I make them lunch the other days. We fund accounts at the start of each year, but don't make a point of checking religiously. Occasionally, an account will run into a deficit. When we notice, we dump more money in. It's not that hard. If I let it remain at a negative balance, I would expect both us and my kids to be told, but not by giving them a lunch and then taking it away.

    The dumbest thing about this is that no-one can claim they were taking these lunches as a money-saving measure, since they tossed the food in the trash. If savings wasn't the motivation, the only other way to look at it is that it was punishment. Bad idea.

  • Midvaliean MIDVALE, UT
    Feb. 4, 2014 7:30 a.m.

    If say, you owe me money and rather than speak to you about it, or send you a bill, or one of any number of accepted tactics of billing an adult, I went and harassed your child about your bill. How would you feel?
    I daresay you would be really mad in the least. At what point do bill collectors harass your children.
    And at what point is food that a child is currently eating better in the garbage than in the child's mouth?

  • liahona Westbank, BC
    Feb. 4, 2014 7:05 a.m.

    Parents need to be responsible and provide lunches themselves. Governments need to get out of providing lunches. End of story.

  • RBB Sandy, UT
    Feb. 4, 2014 6:56 a.m.

    Why not just do away with school lunch? I brown bagged it through school because it was less expensive than school lunch. Now everyone want the government to pay for them. I do not agree with throwing the lunches away, but it there is no money, no food. Lets ask the parents to act like adults and makr sure their kids have lunch money or a lunch from home.

  • Johnny Moser Thayne, WY
    Feb. 4, 2014 6:46 a.m.

    So the cashier checks to make sure that the proper nutrition is on the tray at checkout. So they must have it to clear the first hurdle, they must also have enough money to clear the second hurdle. So theoretically, the lunches that were thrown away actually had food that the kids didn't want or plan to eat anyway. Crazy.

    I know it is important for the kids to get a nutritious lunch but every parent knows just because it is on the plate doesn't mean it went in the belly. Another place were Big Brother and Big Government are not really providing help and they need to step back and let local schools manage for their students.

  • jtbates56 Newark, DE
    Feb. 4, 2014 6:09 a.m.

    Working in school food services I can tell you kids are notified. We send letters, emails, and tell children when they are low on funds. We allow kids to charge a weeks worth of meals. I see parents who only pay enough to get their kids a meal, all the while maintaining a negative balance. Food Services are a self sustaining operation. We get our funds from the sales of meals and snacks. We are not suppose to make or lose money but break even. Parent need to take responsibility for their kids. Check their book bags and ask them questions.

    Sorry to say it is the children that suffer. I wish we could give every child a free meal. There are meals programs for children to get government subsidized meals, yet parents do not fill out the forms. We advertize these programs on school web sites, in local media and even local food markets.

    When are people going to start taking responsibility for there actions or in this case in-actions.

  • Joemamma W Jordan, UT
    Feb. 4, 2014 5:50 a.m.

    The federal government wanting to create another entitlement program in Utah.
    The school lunch system in Utah has functioned this way for decades and no one complained.
    I raised my kids in Utah is called "holding people accountable"
    The entitlement mentality is growing and soon they will demmand free lunches for everyone.
    Once lunches are free the government will regulate exactly what they can eat.
    As log as you pay for your kids meals the government has no saying and what they can eat.
    Wake up everyone!!

  • rvalens2 Burley, ID
    Feb. 4, 2014 3:30 a.m.

    Trillions to spend on overseas wars and the U.S. can't find enough in the budget to see that every child who needs help gets a decent lunch? Something is wrong with our priorities.

  • As If! Layton, UT
    Feb. 3, 2014 10:29 p.m.

    Although I've never seen a child denied a lunch, I have seen those that had their lunch on their plate reduced. It consisted of what the government paid. As a teacher, I can tell you that we send home notes, call parents, leave messages, and do all we can to get the message to the parents. You have no idea how many times I've looked inside a backpack over the years and seen all the notes that they never gave their parents or the parents who never took time to look for information from school. The head of the kitchen can get into a lot of trouble if she lets a child slide by for too long. Everything must be accounted for and an audit is done quite often. I feel badly for the Head Kitchen worker. I have never seen a lunch thrown out, except by the children because they don't like it. Parents and their children need to be responsible.

  • Midvaliean MIDVALE, UT
    Feb. 3, 2014 10:23 p.m.

    As usual Ben Horsely glosses over the details and paints a pretty picture. Well guess what, when people bully kids others get mad. And that is just what the district is doing, is taking food from kids who did nothing wrong. The parents can be billed and sued or what not, but to bully the kids is taking it too far.

  • K Mchenry, IL
    Feb. 3, 2014 9:39 p.m.

    I have an idea, have one less staff member in every cafeteria. The cashier. I wonder the time to buy the system of payment and staff spending time tracking payments down is way more than $42,000? Ask for the fee at the start of the year. Or by quarter. Or chuck the fee. It is a tiny percentage of the budget. I would move the alternate lunch provided by the school doesn't meet the new rules and ought not get any federal reimbursement for violating the standards. In prison do some prisoners get a roll and milk and others get a hot meal with fresh fruit?

  • K Mchenry, IL
    Feb. 3, 2014 9:32 p.m.

    They are required to eat at school. Why doesn't the school pay for it? $42,000 is benefits for one teacher. Why provide a free sandwich and milk to the ones with no money and chicken strips and fruit to someone with $2. It's ridiculous. And they really don't eat the cost. How much do they and have they sold over the years in vending machines, ice cream or cookies on Fridays and other stunts. What is next toilet paper from home under the notion if you want you kid to use the bathroom at school you need to pay for it?

  • netjes Grand Rapids, MI
    Feb. 3, 2014 8:11 p.m.

    Why is the federal government involved at all? Having the cashier police the tray for the correct choices of food. Insane.

    Feb. 3, 2014 7:36 p.m.

    “It’s $2,” she said. “Nobody wants to be humiliated over $2.”

    Well then Ms. Meidell PAY your son's lunch account!

    You don't go to McDonalds and expect to eat without PAYING for it.

  • conservative scientist Lindon, UT
    Feb. 3, 2014 7:28 p.m.

    Nothing as brilliant as one bone-headed behavior leading to an even more bone-headed behavior.