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Utah school takes lunches from students with account deficits

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (WTVR) — Utah parents are criticizing an elementary school for taking school lunches away from students because of unpaid accounts.

However, school officials claim the children did not go hungry.

When fifth-grader Sophia Isom got into the lunch line Tuesday, the girl said she was met by a district nutrition manager who was monitoring accounts.

“So she took my lunch away and she’s like, ‘Go get a milk.’ And I come back up and I’m like, ‘What’s going on?’ Then she handed me an orange and she said, ‘You don’t have any money in your account, so you can’t get lunch,’” Sophia said.

Sophia said the food was thrown out.

“We were all blind-sided,” said Erica Lukes, Sophia’s mother. “There were lots of tears, and it was pretty upsetting for them.”

The district said it started notifying parents about negative account balances Monday, but Sophia’s mother said she was never notified.

“Even if they did try to send the word out, you still don’t do that to a child,” she said. “You don’t take a lunch out of their hands.”

“It probably could have, and should have, been handled in a different manner,” Jason Olsen, a spokesperson for the Salt Lake City School District, said.

Olsen said they will review the notification system and admitted that the district should have given the kids a grace period.

“They did take that tray away and gave them fruit and a milk,” Olsen said. “We don’t ever let kids go without any food entirely.”

The Jordan School district said they will charge elementary school students up to five days, after which the principal will work with the student and family.

In the Granite district, when an account hits zero, the student still gets lunch, and the parents get a phone call and a letter. The Canyons district has a similar notification system.

Each of these districts has computerized programs, which enable parents to set up recurring payments and get timely notifications.

“That will help, but we also need to handle these things with delicacy,” Olsen said.

Click here to read more on this story from KSTU in Salt Lake City. 


  • Will

    How about this…..Parents pay your child’s dang luch bill?????? And yes she’s right it should’ve never come to this over a two dollar negative balance meaning she shouldv’ e just paid the two dollars owed?????

    • athynz

      While I agree with your sentiment as far as the parents/guardians stepping up financially it’s still not right taking a lunch tray away from a kid and then throwing the food away. Not only did they completely screw up the kid’s day but they wasted the food – the first step should be to get rid of the idiot district nutrition manager.

  • Dave

    The district I live in and work in every student gets a free lunch. I think that every kid in every district in the whole country should get free lunch. There are other districts that I know of around me that if you don’t have money to pay for lunch you are allowed 3 charges. If you use those 3 charges and still don’t have money for lunch then you receive a PBJ fruit and white milk.

  • manalishi

    Although it is a shame, it’s fixable. But it’s still not as abd as th democrat controlled cities where the free lunch programs is the only meal they for the day. This turned into a disaster when petersburg stopped the free breakfast. Coincidence?

  • ace

    the WHOLE purpose is im pretty sure the pay TAXES!!!!!!!!!!!!! therefore no food should have been taking away.. point blank period..

  • Kathy Bagby

    I sent 3 children to school for a period of 24 years. I always made sure they had either a packed lunch or money paid on an account or money sent with them to pay for their lunch. “I” made sure my kids were fed. It was “my” responsibility. Parents need to be parents. These kids didn’t go hungry. The school still fed them. But if they had gone hungry, then maybe the parents should feel bad for allowing it to happen.

    • Dustin Cavanaugh

      “I” “Me” get out of you and consider the people that really matter which is everyone else. You singularly don’t matter at all. You are just another entitled sheep who refuses to see what is right in front of him.


    If they go back to class hungry, they’ll think about that and not
    learn anything that day. Then what have you got? And these
    people are teaching our kids. Someone needs to go and bully
    there kids. Thats what that was. Clear and simple.

  • barbara

    shame on you. it’s not the kids fault they had no money in there account. so why did they punish those kids. maybe their hair nets were on to tight. that is just so wrong and they need to be put on leave without pay. and they think by giving them an orange and a carton of milk that this would make up for a hot meal? now happens if this child had allergies to milk or even or to that orange what then bread and water. shame shame shame someone should slap the taste out of their mouths. and to waste all that food shame again on you too tight hair net wearing witches. boo on you

  • ALAN

    how about putting the blame where it belongs the parents didn’t put money in the proper account but they want to blame the school for their lack of responsibility lets go to wendys or burgerking and get a free meal it is not going to happen to the parents take care of your kids so the school doesn’t have to the only fault is the parents can make the kid but cant afford to give it lunch money

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