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No money, no lunch: School takes lunch away from students without funds, throws it away

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SALT LAKE CITY – Some students in Utah say school officials are refusing to serve kids lunch who don’t have enough money in their lunch account.

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

Isom said, “She took my lunch away and said, ‘Go get a milk.’ I came back and asked, ‘What’s going on?’ Then she handed me an orange. She said, ‘You don’t have any money in your account, so you can’t get lunch.”

According to Sophia, the food that was on her tray was thrown in the trash.

Erica Lukes, Isom’s mother, said, “There were lots of tears and it was pretty upsetting for them.”

The district said it started notifying parents about negative account balances Monday.

However, Isom’s mother says she was not notified.

Lukes said, “Even if they did try to send the word out, you still don’t do that to a child. You don’t take a lunch out of their hands.”

Jason Olsen, spokesperson for the Salt Lake City School District, said, “It probably could have and should have been handled in a different manner.”

He said they will review the notification system and should have given the children a grace period.

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

In other districts in the area, students will still receive lunch and parents will get a phone call and a letter.

Each district has programs that allow parents to set up recurring payments and get timely notifications.

Olsen said, “That will help but we also need to handle these things with delicacy.”