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So much for students eating a well-balanced meal to help them focus in class.

Forty students at Uintah Elementary in Salt Lake City, Utah were in for a big (and cruel) surprise when they picked up their lunches…only to have them taken away from them and thrown away.

Reason? Outstanding balances on their account. And not surprisingly, the move angered parents and left many kids with empty bellies.

“It was pretty traumatic and humiliating,” said Erica Lukes, whose 11-year-old daughter had her cafeteria lunch taken from her as she stood in line Tuesday at Uintah Elementary School, 1571 E. 1300 South.

Lukes said as far as she knew, she was all paid up. “I think it’s despicable,” she said. “These are young children that shouldn’t be punished or humiliated for something the parents obviously need to clear up.”

The blame could go to the district’s child-nutrition department, according to Jason Olsen, a Salt Lake City District spokesman.

After becoming aware that Uintah had a large number of students who owed money for lunches, the child-nutrition manager decided to withhold lunches to deal with the issue, he said. Problem was, the cafeteria workers weren’t able to see which children owed money until they had already received lunches.

That means just as they were about to chow down on whatever creation the lunch ladies made, it was snatched away from them and trashed.

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.

The school reportedly gave fruit and milk to some students who had their lunches seized. But we doubt that makes up for the humiliation, the hunger pangs and the anger parents felt after learning about the incident.

SOURCE: Salt Lake City Tribune | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty

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