Utah elementary school seizes 40 students’ school lunches over unpaid accounts

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SALT LAKE CITY,Utah (CBS/CNN) – In Utah, parents are criticizing an elementary school for taking school lunches away from about 40 students because of unpaid accounts.

But the school says the children did not go hungry.

“We were all blind-sided”, says Erica Lukes. She’s a parent whose child has her lunch taken away Wednesday.

When 5th grader Sophia Isom got to the end of the lunch line Wednesday she was met by a district nutrition manager who was monitoring accounts.

“So she took my lunch away and she’s like, “go get a milk., and I’m like ‘ok.” And I come back up and I’m like , ‘what’s going on?”  Then she handed me an orange and she said, “you don’t have any money in your account so you can’t get lunch.”

Sophia said the food was thrown out.

“There were lots of tears, and it was pretty upsetting for them,” says Sophia’s mother.

The district said it started notifying parents about negative account balances Monday. but Sophia’s mother says she was not notified.

“Even if they did try to send the word out, you still don’t do that to a child,” she said. “You don’t take a lunch out of their hands. It probably could have, and should have, been handled in a different manner.”

The Salt Lake City School District Spokesman said they will review the notification system. He also said the district should have given the kids a grace period.

“They did take that tray away and gave them fruit and a milk. We don’t ever let kids go without any food entirely.”

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