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Will Your Child Receive a School Lunch If You Have An Outstanding Lunch Account Balance?

School Lunch
William Thomas Caine, Getty Images

That is exactly what I asked myself last week when I found out both of my sons had exhausted their lunch account money. I was made aware of this after school the day before going out of town. I immediately went to the both schools and replenished both accounts after asking if they were denied meals that day because they were already short. I was assured by both schools that the kids are NEVER denied a lunch when this happens because it’s not the kids’ fault, it’s the parents’ fault and the kids will not be made to suffer for mom and dad’s mistake, which I was very relieved to hear.

However, an elementary school in Salt Lake City, Utah decided it was time to get the attention of parents who were delinquent in paying their child’s lunch account. There were about 40 kids with outstanding lunch account balances, so when those kids came through the line, cafeteria workers snatched their lunch tray from them and threw them away leaving the kids humiliated and the parents outraged.

Since the school didn’t necessarily know which kids had delinquent accounts, they waited for the kids to get their lunch and go to the cashier, who promptly pointed out which kids were delinquent and took their lunches away and threw in the trash as the child stood by and watched.

I read this story and became sick to my stomach that something like this could actually occur. What thought process told them the best way to handle this was to completely humiliate and demoralize these 40 children? The very thought of it makes my blood boil.

It is the responsibility of the parents to make sure these lunch accounts are current with positive balances. I think most parents have had this happen at some point because they just have a brain fart and forget…it happens to the best of us….it happened to me just last week as I said.

This particular school in Utah, as probably with most others, tell the children to let their parents know the account is at zero and then they send home notices. The problem is, that puts the responsibility directly on the CHILD to get this resolved. Kids forget things 5 seconds after you tell them and even if the school sends home a notice, the child is likely to forget they have it in their backpack, that is just the way kids are.

The system has to remove the child from the process. Calls need to be made by the school to the parents directly along with a mailed notification, which should be sent out when the account hits a certain level. An e-mail should be sent out as well if possible, assuming the parents have e-mail.

The extreme measure they took at this Utah school should cost somebody their job. Make it a point to check with your school periodically to see where the account stands and then act accordingly…it’s really not that hard, but let’s never put any of the responsibility on the kids….EVER and never punish and humiliate a child for a simple mistake or oversight the child had NOTHING to do with. Just my two-cents. What do you think?

[Salt Lake Tribune]

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