So apparently, kids in Utah were served lunch. However, because the kids had a negative balance (which means they owe money) the lunches were taken off the students and tossed into the garbage.
At least, that’s the basics of the story from USA Today about a school in Salt Lake City that actually took food away from around 40 kids in an elementary school. You can argue how advanced kids today are, but I’m doubting an elementary student is capable of navigating the complicated world of school lunch credit and debit payments.
Apparently, the school tried to contact parents that had allowed the balances in lunch accounts to run into the negative, but nobody is saying if every parent was contacted. Further clouding the issue is that the crusade against lunch freeloaders was conducted after a nutrition manager was sent to the school, according to Yahoo News, to investigate the high number of negative or zero balance students in the lunch program. Imagine if every aspect of government was that involved?
The funny thing here (if there is anything funny) is that the school issued an apology via Facebook. It’s funny because the school could have issue a warning the same way. Something like “If you child has a negative lunch balance they will be given a milk and a piece of fruit until the issue is cleared up.” That took less than a minute for me to write, BTW. Still, the school could have simply served the kids and sent a note home to the parents about the issue instead of grandstanding and tossing the lunch. (The lunches were tossed because once food is served to one student it can’t be served to another.)
There were at least fifty ways to handle this without doing anything rash, but apparently a lunch tyrant decided that parents wouldn’t get the message unless their kids were punished in front of their friends. I get that someone needs to pay for the food, but even if a school lunch for an elementary student ran $5 you can’t tell me that a group of teachers couldn’t get together and hook them up. Apologizing via social media is really rubbing parents, noses in it.
Of course, there was a press conference where some lawmakers took the chance to get on television and call the actions “bullying” and “abuse of power.” Still, I’m willing to bet the rules on what happens when you don’t pay your lunch bill are pretty clear, the situation got out of hand. Plus, the school apologized again at the press conference, because apparently not all the parents had an Internet connection to get the story from other sources (sarcasm).
Stuff like this seems to happen every year, and there is no good reason for it. If you are simply going to throw the food away, why take it in the first place? Just let the kids enjoy it, but let them know what the score is. They might not understand debit and credit, but they understand bringing a note home to mom and dad.