Worst Persons in the World

This is not only cruel, it’s also incredibly stupid.

Up to 40 kids at Uintah Elementary in Salt Lake City picked up their lunches Tuesday, then watched as the meals were taken and thrown away because of outstanding balances on their accounts — a move that shocked and angered parents. [...]

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.

Let’s be clear here.

Children were served lunch and then a manager took away their lunch and threw it away.

Presumably the lunch they were served cost money to serve. That’s why the students were in debt, right?

Since food costs money, why throw the food away? I understand that you cannot serve the same food to another person, but you’re essentially throwing food away for an ideological reason; to punish children. Those children may be in debt (which is a heinous concept) but when you throw food away, you’re throwing money away. What difference does it make if they are allowed to eat the food instead of tossing it? The school spent money on the food whether they eat it or not, so why not let them eat it?

Whoever is directly responsible for this; whoever the “child-nutrition manager” is; should be fired and never work with children again. Ever. Their talents may be better suited for a prison or the House of Representatives.

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  • Ashes Defacto

    Regrettably this is life in red state America and it’s just a small taste of what these kids are going to go through in later life.

  • Ipecac

    I completely agree. What numbskull wouldn’t just say, “Oh, well, you already handed the food out, we should let them go ahead and eat it.”

    It takes a real asshole to say, “Go take away those kids’ lunches.”

    • Clancy

      It’s even worse if you stop to think that this action likely humiliated and stigmatized the children involved. Presumably the 40 children were not about to eat their lunches in their own cafeteria away from all the kids who were up-to-date on their payments. . .

  • http://www.politicalruminations.com/ nicole

    It just makes me want to cry.

    I cannot believe that anyone would be so heartless. If it were I who was ordered to do that, I’d have to lose my job.

    Truly heinous.

    • Clancy

      One would think one of the workers would at least have the decency or intelligence to point this out to the child-nutrition manager (is that a fancy term for cafeteria supervisor?) when they were ordered to seize the meals. “Hey boss, isn’t this kind of mean? Why don’t we just send a letter home to their parents letting them know they’re behind on payments?”

      • http://www.politicalruminations.com/ nicole

        Exactly.

        If it were me, I would have refused to do it, or offered to pay for the meals if I could afford it.

        It just shocks me.

      • Christopher Foxx

        “Hey boss, isn’t this kind of mean? Why don’t we just send a letter home to their parents letting them know they’re behind on payments?”

        Which actually is what they do.

        Olsen said school officials told the district that their staffers typically tell students about any balances as they go through the lunch line and send home notifications to parents each week.

        The district attempted to contact parents with balances via phone Monday and Tuesday, Olsen said, but weren’t able to reach them all before the child-nutrition manager decided to take away the students’ lunches.

        That’s right. Because the school wasn’t quick enough in telling the parents about the money owed, the kids get punished.

        I mean, school lunches cost a couple bucks or so each. Some of these families might even have run up debts nudging into the double digits. Clearly the district had to take action right away!

      • Sabyen91

        One of the cafeteria workers was openly crying. I think this should be hint enough.

      • ninjaf

        Not enough shame for those “Takers” in sending home a letter. We need to send a message so they don’t ever fall behind again.

        So sad.

  • rperschmann

    Say no more. You are correct.

  • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

    Believe me when I say that I have some VERY current professional knowledge about this particular topic. This is not just the policy in UT or in that particular school…school boards around the nation have to make this choice. Since the Great Recession there have been more and more families who do not qualify for a “free lunch” via the USDA National School Lunch Program (either because they financially don’t qualify or they haven’t filled out the paperwork) but still can’t afford to pay for lunches. However, school districts are not getting more money to meet this rise in demand (thanks Congress you asshats). Even so, there are things that the school boards and schools can do to avoid shaming the students and wasting food as they are doing in this UT example.

    1) Have a cafeteria worker at the beginning of the line to help the child check their balance. If it’s $0 then the school can decide whether they will provide the child with a “standard” free lunch, let them buy food and the account go into the negative or let the child go hungry.

    2) The school can factor into their annual food planning and budgeting that is provided to the State (which is forwarded in aggregate to the USDA). They KNOW a percentage of lunches will be provided for free but will not paid for by an actual student. That’s why before the school year starts they fill out a survey on what food and how much food in bulk (some raw and some processed) they want to get from USDA warehouses. If they anticipate the overage and they are managing their funds well, they can factor it in. In addition, there is grant money to be had and there are charitable groups that can help. Heck, wealthier families in the school district have been known to pitch in. So there are multiple ways to make it work. In the meantime, school boards, school administrators and parents need to bug the shit out of their Congresscritters on funding food programs for schools and daycare providers.

    3) If a trend is established with a student that they have funds but it’s always a little less than is needed, there is a “reduced” category that the family might qualify for and the school needs to be aggressive about approaching families to fill out the paperwork to help that child get fed.

    4) School districts need to be VERY aggressive with their campaign to get all families to fill out the forms for free and reduced lunches. They need to also use all the means available to notify parents when balances get low. My daughter’s school district uses a website that allows me to set up a notification rule for when the balance falls below a certain amount. Just recently she ran out of funds because I forgot to update the balance online in spite of the emails I received. They let her balance go into the negative (something like .29 cents). Which is another thing they can do if they are using a website billing app….put it in the contract that the parent has to pay for any overages and limit the overage amount but let it go negative for a little bit if necessary.

    5) There is a standard free lunch provided for anyone that can’t pay but isn’t already “free eligible” and that is a peanut butter sandwich and some milk. Many schools choose to provide this on their own (whether it is budgeted or not)….if the school or school board wants to be some fascist assholes and not feed those kids then they’re being willfully evil.

    So there are ways….many better ways to take care of this problem.

  • RickInSaltLake

    This happened in my city. I am ashamed. And another sad aspect about this, and sad commentary on my community, is that there actually are people who see nothing that wrong in this approach. This is, in reality, a good thing to teach kids at this age that they shouldn’t be “moochers” or “deadbeats” or to expect a truly free lunch. You know, a lesson they’ll remember.

    These are often the same people that openly proclaim that our kids are our future and we should “cherish them.” (Apparently as long as they tow the line.)

    • Christopher Foxx

      This is, in reality, a good thing to teach kids at this age that they shouldn’t be “moochers” or “deadbeats” or to expect a truly free lunch

      Which is exactly backwards, of course. Children should always be able to expect a “free” lunch. How their food is paid for (or even that it is paid for) should never have to be a child’s concern.

      • stacib23

        My thoughts exactly! It wasn’t the kids that were in debt, it was their parents. Who in all hell doesn’t feed a hungry kid?

        • Christopher Foxx

          Republicans.

  • KABoink_after_wingnut_hacker

    So a “Child Nutrition Manager” takes food away from hungry children and throws it in the garbage.
    Sounds like that isn’t the proper title for this asshat.

  • RamOrgan

    Naw, they’d get shanked in prison. In the House they’d probably get elected Speaker.

  • Christopher Foxx


    But Olsen said he would not describe the tactic as a mistake.

    “If students were humiliated and upset,” Olsen said, “that’s very unfortunate and not what we wanted to happen.”

    And what did he think was going to happen? That the children would feel grateful and uplifted?

    Unconscionable.

  • Christopher Foxx

    More fro the district’s statement:

    “We understand the feelings of upset parents and students who say this was an embarrassing and humiliating situation.

    Yup, it’s the “We’re sorry you decided to be upset” non-apology.

    Talk about refusing to get the point.

  • Christopher Foxx

    Erica Lukes, whose 11-year-old daughter had her cafeteria lunch taken from her [said] her daughter’s best friend was so upset that she went home Tuesday night and made lunches for all the students who had theirs taken

    To solution is simple. Sherry Hardman out, Daughter’s Best Friend in.

    Daughter’s Best Friend for Child Nutrition Manager!

  • j hentai

    i’m sorry but these people should be repeatedly kicked up the arse, if i didn’t make it clear repeatedly

  • eljefejeff

    I don’t blame the workers, I blame the school boards and legislatures cutting money for free and reduced lunch. The workers are doing their jobs, it’s one thing to say “well then I’d lose my job before throwing out a kid’s food” but those workers don’t get paid much either, it’s not like they have the luxury of quitting on the spot when they have their own families.

  • bbiemeret

    I wish someone would take food away from one of my kids. I can guarantee it’d be the last time they did.

  • Badgerite

    Hard to tell who were the ‘children’ and who were the ‘adults’ in this scenario.
    I’m surprised one of them didn’t opine the lack of ‘work houses’.
    Scrooge lives! And why do the people that did this still have jobs?
    This is child abuse.