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Dutchess_III's avatar

How could this Utah school, that threw out up to 40 kid's lunch due to debt, have handled it differently?

Asked by Dutchess_III (36138points) January 31st, 2014

This article

Lunch workers just pulled the kid’s trays away from them and threw the food in the trash because their parents hadn’t paid their lunch bill. To me, that was the worst possible way to have handled it. It was just terrible and I feel sorry for those poor kids. But, on the other hand, the parents need to pay the bill or start sending lunch to school with their kids.

How would you have dealt with this problem?

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32 Answers

Tropical_Willie's avatar

The school system sounds like they are trying to embarrass the family and parents to get them to pay. But it is like arresting taxi cab driver because the owner of the company didn’t renew the cab licenses. The kids may be traumatized in any school venue.

My county sends a letter to the house, but serves PB&J’s ( or other meal ) and milk not the scheduled meal. Title II cover the feeding in schools, sound like the school system is not complying with Federal laws.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yes, I’m sure that was their motivation, but to humiliate the kids to achieve that goal was terrible. It sounds like they let the kids be served, then made a point of taking their lunch away.

How could they have gotten their point across otherwise? Perhaps quietly given the kids just crackers and cheese until the parents paid?

ragingloli's avatar

These lunch workers need to be punched in the face. Repeatedly. And then shot.

As for the system, why not just hand out tickets to the kids that they have to trade in for the meal? Kids whose parents have not paid get no tickets, no tickets, no lunch.

Dutchess_III's avatar

How would the tickets change anything? I mean, they could just say, “Mary, I’m sorry but there isn’t any lunch money in your account, so we can’t give you lunch until there is some.”

Dutchess_III's avatar

I’m as pissed of at the parents as any one. I mean, school lunches are $2.00, $3.00 apiece. You can’t tell me that some of those parents would think nothing of dropping that much on a cup of coffee for themselves every day, or eating fast food for themselves at twice that amount.

ragingloli's avatar

Would be no problem if school was an all inclusive proposition. food and materials.

jca's avatar

At my daughter’s school (public school), when the lunch account needs replishment (in other words, when I need to send a check), they give her cheese sandwiches or something similar until I send a check. To take a kid’s food and throw it in the garbage is a waste of food, traumatizing to the kid and why punish the kid when it’s not the kid’s fault?

Makes no sense. I would re-think sending my child to that school.

Dutchess_III's avatar

The schools I taught at did the same kind of thing. They’d get a cheese sandwich or crackers and cheese and milk. And an apple. They got SOMEthing. Although, to have to eat a cheese sandwich when everyone else is having a meal would be a little embarrassing too, I’d think. Like a big flag.

jca's avatar

At my daughter’s school, cheese sandwich is an option for all kids so there’s no shame in it. Her lunch time is actually breakfast so she usually gets bagels and stuff.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

One day isn’t going to bankrupt the system and they already paid for the food on the tray, the school actually increased their costs. Just figure out a way to stop the kids from getting in line on the second day.

zenvelo's avatar

You send a note home with the kid, that has to be signed and the account paid off before the next morning. If the kid shows up at school without a signed note, the kid goes to the Principal’s office (or the school library) and a parent has to come to the school.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@zenvelo Excellent. Hassle the parent and it wouldn’t happen that often.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, the article said they did try to contact the parents, but were unsuccessful in some cases, ignored in others. But physically involving the parents is a good idea @zenvelo. I just hate that the kids should have to suffer at ALL, and singling them out in any way does just that.

jca's avatar

Or feed the kid for a few and let the parent owe what’s due. If they don’t pay up within a week, then take secondary measures. Why should the kid suffer because the parent is negligent or broke? Maybe the parent has to wait till payday. It’s not an issue I have, thank God, but it is probably an issue for many.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Wait..they did give them fruit and milk.

@jca I’m under the impression that these were fairly long outstanding debts and they had been attempting to contact the parents for some time. It wasn’t like they missed one day.

jca's avatar

@Dutchess_III: Gotcha. Still, I don’t think throwing out the food made any sense.

KNOWITALL's avatar

This whole thing is stupid. Taking food from a child? Throwing it away? What happened to withholding a report card or revoking library rights and that kind of thing. If that was my child, they’d have a problem on their hands.

Dutchess_III's avatar

No, it made no sense to me either @jca. It sounds like somebody was throwing a temper tantrum. The lunch supervisor was suspended, BTW.

It’s the fact that they did something to deliberately humiliate the child that really gets to me. Yes, there should be logical consequences. I feel that feeding them a cheese sandwich, a piece of fruit and a milk is a reasonable consequence and a perfectly sound lunch for that matter. I mean, if the kid goes home everyday complaining then the parents will contact the school.

SwanSwanHummingbird's avatar

Maybe they can hire some people that actually care about the students. The food was just thrown out. That school needs employees that aren’t soulless, politicos that care nothing for people, only politics and money.


KNOWITALL's avatar

@ragingloli hahaha, nice. Sounded a little like my 80’s boyfriend Jean Claude VanDamme!!

Dutchess_III's avatar

Maybe they need parents who actually care about their kids, too.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Dutchess_III You said ‘deliberately humiliate the child’ and that’s what really peeves me off, too. That is very unprofessional to say the least, unkind and uncalled for. Like having parents who don’t care isn’t bad enough right?!

Cruiser's avatar

It appears to me the school has learned a lesson from their huge blunder here and has laid out some new ideas on how to better handle notifying parents of kids accounts being low or depleted. I feel bad for the kids and pretty much everyone involved. This exposes just how selfish and bottom line minded people, businesses and even institutions have become.

Dutchess_III's avatar

And shows that people aren’t taking care of their responsibilities. People suffer when that happens.

jca's avatar

@Dutchess_III: It’s possible the parents didn’t have the money to send, so to say they don’t care about their kids is making an assumption. They may make too much to qualify for free lunch but yet be living hand-to-mouth, and so need to wait for payday or unemployment check or whatever to come through.

Dutchess_III's avatar

But they could pack a lunch and send it to school with the child for pennies. If they don’t have a scrap of food anywhere in the house either for them or their kids, then that’s a huge problem.

The article said they had sent notes home, had tried to call, left messages, but the parents weren’t responding. I am 100% sure that if the parents had simply called and said, “I will pay on this date,” they would have accepted that and it would have been fine. Assuming the parents actually paid.

There are two sides to every story. The only thing I can say with absolute certainty is that the lunch supervisor did the absolute wrong thing and deserves to be fired…although, even at that, was someone putting the screws to her? Were they trying to hold her personally responsible for the delinquencies or something? There has to be a reason that she took such drastic action.

jca's avatar

It seems we agree that it was a terrible thing to do, and useless waste of food, but what we don’t necessarily agree on but also don’t know the details of are how much time the parents had to pay up, what the collections methods were and what could have been done in the meantime so the kids don’t suffer. The article didn’t provide those details so we’re all speculating.

Kropotkin's avatar

Call me crazy and radical, and I know this is a far-fetched idea, but I’m just going to put it out there and see what you all think.

Provide free meals.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Kropotkin Not a bad idea. We’re spending $80 to $90 bucks a day for the education, what’s a few bucks for food for all. I don’t know what the administrative savings might be of free food. It might be almost the same.

rojo's avatar

@Kropotkin given the number of kids who have to depend on school lunches to provide a major source of nourishment I have to agree with @Adirondackwannabe. As high as our school taxes are here what is a couple more bucks to ensure that all children are given at least the opportunity of a decent meal.

Darth_Algar's avatar

The fact that school lunches are a basically subscription service is absolutely deplorable and should be a source of shame for a nation that bills itself as the greatest country on the planet. Provide free lunches for all children, regardless of their families financial status.

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