Demand Apology for Seizure of Student Lunches


Target: Salt Lake City School District Superintendent Dr. McKell Withers

Goal: Issue apologies to all students whose lunches were thrown away and punish the responsible district official

An apparent epidemic of past-due balances for school lunches at Uintah Elementary in Salt Lake City School District recently led a district official to take and publicly throw away the lunches of forty young students after their negative balances were revealed. District policy prevents cafeteria workers from giving a lunch to a pupil after it has already been served to another, and evidently the balances of student accounts are only available after they have received their lunches. A district child-nutrition manager decided to take the children’s lunches and give them milk and fruit instead, according to district spokesman Jason Olsen, who later claimed that the district was still investigating the source of that decision.

Needless to say, parents of Uintah Elementary students are furious – even those whose kids were not denied lunch – about the public humiliation of the students and the waste of forty school lunches. Furthermore, the action was taken before most parents received any notification of low or negative balance; parent Kevin Conway told The Salt Lake Tribune that Uintah “has three phone numbers for me and three email addresses. But how did I hear I had a negative $4 balance? From my daughter calling me and crying. Everyone is culpable here except the kids.” The district has publicly apologized and claims to be investigating the seizure as well as their notification system. So far the only action has been to place the school cafeteria manager and her supervisor on paid leave, despite the fact that many of the kids attest the cafeteria manager was not responsible and cried after being ordered to throw away the lunches.

By signing this petition, you are calling on Superintendent Withers to identify the responsible district officials and to take punitive action, including requiring them to apologize to all of the children whose lunches were taken. You are encouraging Superintendent Withers to make the necessary changes to district policy so as to prevent a similar incident from occurring in the future.


Dear Superintendent Withers,

The recent atrocity at Uintah Elementary, during which the lunches of forty students were thrown away, represents unacceptable treatment of American children, not to mention an unspeakable waste of food and resources. Children were publicly humiliated in front of their peers and denied the nutrition they need to learn because the system of payment for school lunches in your district is abysmal. Many parents of the victims received no notification of their negative balance before action was taken against their innocent children. Your response, in placing the cafeteria manager on leave when the children attest she was not responsible, and in issuing a public apology that fails to address the victims themselves, is less than satisfactory.

I am calling on you to make the necessary changes to the district’s payment system and/or district policy to ensure that an incident like this one never happens again. I am urging you to find the person responsible for this incident and to take appropriate punitive action, including a requirement that the individual personally issue apologies to the children affected. This is an opportunity to teach a lesson about taking responsibility for one’s actions.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: David Shankbone via Wikimedia Commons

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One Comment

  1. Robert Ortiz says:

    That was shameful, mean and wasteful and should never have happened.

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