Target: Salt Lake City School District Superintendent Dr. McKell Withers
Goal: Condemn school for taking away school lunches from children with unpaid balances
Cafeteria workers in Uintah Elementary School in Utah recently took lunches away from dozens of children with unpaid balances on their accounts. The children had already received their lunches, but since the negative account balances were not made visible to workers until after the students tried to make the purchase, the food was then taken away from them and thrown in the trash.
Students were confused and humiliated, and forced to spend the rest of the day hungry. One child, Sophia Isom, reported that a worker told her to get milk and an orange after she had thrown her lunch in the trash. “She said, ‘You don’t have any money in your account, so you can’t get lunch’,” Sophia reported. The food was thrown away because of regulations that food cannot be given to another student once it has been served. “I think it’s despicable,” said one mother, Erica Lukes. “These are young children that shouldn’t be punished or humiliated for something the parents obviously need to clear up.”
Parents had been notified about the negative balances in the morning but not all of them could be reached in time to adjust the balance, and their children had their lunches taken away. It is possible that a glitch in the school’s automatic debit system caused so many parents to be unaware of their low account balances. Republican Senator Todd Weiler said that this behavior on the part of the cafeteria workers and school officials “rises to the level of bullying.”
Please sign this petition to condemn the child nutrition manager and workers who took school lunches away from children and demand steps to be taken to ensure this will never happen again.
Dear Dr. McKell Withers,
Recently at Uintah Elementary School, school lunches were taken from dozens of hungry children because their account balances were negative. This would be unacceptable if it happened to just one child, but when thirty to forty children have negative account balances, there is a high risk that you are punishing small children because of a glitch in your own system.
A child’s financial situation should always be handled delicately, and if there is any possible doubt, children should be always be fed first. Under no circumstances should a child’s food ever be taken away, publicly humiliating them for circumstances beyond their control.
Please fire the district child nutrition manager who would be such a bully and abuse power so badly that she would actually take food from hungry children to punish them for their parents’ mistake. This behavior is truly concerning, and she should not have authority over children and their health. Please also take steps to prevent this kind of chaos from ever recurring.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Casey Lehman via Wikimedia Commons