There Ain't No Such Thing as a Free Lunch: School Teaches Deadbeat Kids a Lesson by Seizing Their Meals

No lunch for you, deadbeats!

It's a tough economy out there, so it's understandable that the parents of forty kids at the Uintah Elementary School got behind paying the lunch balance at school. The school district decided to turn this into a teachable moment unlike any other. Apparently, the lesson was that there ain't no such thing as a free lunch, so the school seized the meals and threw them away.

"It was pretty traumatic and humiliating," mother Erica Lukes told The Salt Lake Tribune. Lukes' 11-year-old daughter had her lunch taken away from her as she stood in line at the school's cafeteria. "I think it's despicable. These are young children that shouldn't be punished or humiliated for something the parents obviously need to clear up."

Jason Olsen, spokesman for the Salt Lake City school district, tried to explain the situation:

... the district’s child-nutrition department became aware that Uintah had a large number of students who owed money for lunches. As a result, the child-nutrition manager visited the school and decided to withhold lunches to deal with the issue, he said.

But cafeteria workers weren’t able to see which children owed money until they had already received lunches, Olsen explained.

The workers then took those lunches from the students and threw them away, he said, because once food is served to one student it can’t be served to another.

No apologies though, as Olsen added "If the students were humiliated and upset, that's very unfortunate and not what we wanted to happen." He refused to call the tactic a mistake, though after a firestorm of criticism erupted, the district posted an online apology.

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