Thursday, January 30, 2014

Unpaid Cafeteria Bills Result in Seized Lunches, Hungry Kids

I have a hard time finding words to describe what happened at an elementary school in Utah.

The school had a problem with some unpaid lunch bills at the school cafeteria. OK, no major crisis as there are a number of options available to school administrators to handle that issue. The cafeteria staff, however,was somehow was unable to tell who actually owed money until they served lunches to the students, so they went ahead and served the meals.

Who or what keeps the records in that cafeteria, I can't imagine.

Some students are behind on their cafeteria bills. Which students?. I don't know - we'll have to serve them again and find out.

Now, having served the meals and thus been able to come up with a list of students whose bills were past due, we should be able to contact their parents, right?

The district child nutrition manager had a better idea. The message must be sent that there will be a policy of zero tolerance for such a blatant case of  theft of services.

The students were approached, and their meals, which were now their property as well as a means of midday sustenance, were taken from them and thrown in the garbage. Not only were they deprived of a full meal, they were also subjected to a sickening degree of humiliation.

"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.........................

Jason Olsen, a Salt Lake City District spokesman, said 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.

Children whose lunches were taken were given milk and fruit instead.

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.........

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

[The following is probably the most callous remark that I have ever read that did not concern a victim of a violent crime.]

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

[First of all, to use the word "if" is a bold-faced lie in this case - there was no "if". Secondly, what they supposedly had not "wanted to happen" is another lie as no one could pretend to believe that they were unaware that the children would not be upset and feel humiliated]

"However, after further investigation, Olsen released an updated statement that was also posted to the district’s Facebook page. It said: "This situation could have and should have been handled in a different manner. We apologize."

[Here again comes the lie train. I am more sick to my stomach about the response than I am about the seizure. "parents and students who say that this was an embarrassing and humiliating experience". A remark of this type is pure Orwellian Newspeak and is only made with the intention to imply that not all who claimed to be upset or humiliated actually were]

The post adds: "We understand the feelings of upset parents and students who say this was an embarrassing and humiliating situation. We again apologize and commit to working with parents in rectifying this situation and to ensuring students are never treated in this manner again."

[How thoughtful]

Olsen said it’s standard in the district to give kids fruit and milk in lieu of lunch if they don’t have the money to pay for lunch.............

[I do appreciate the reaction of one of the (likely coerced) employees, who felt badly enough to cry while taking the lunches, but there comes a time when one has to inform his or her supervisor that he or she will not comply with the order]

She said it was a difficult day for her daughter and other kids. She said her daughter told her one of the cafeteria workers cried at the sight. And 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, she said.

"You would think in a public school system your child wouldn’t be turned away from lunch," Lukes said, "especially when people usually settle their balances."........."

If I were a Dad of one of these children, the school administration would have to call the cops to force me to leave the school when I arrived the next day. I would find the nutrition manager, pay my bill, and tell that individual to choke on the money. I would also make an appointment with a lawyer and see if there were cause to sue the same individual (and any school administrator who was found to be aware of the plan) personally for damages.

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