SALT LAKE CITY – School district officials announced Friday that partial meals will no longer be served and students will receive full meals regardless of their school lunch account balance, and the move comes shortly after a controversial incident in which students had lunches taken from them and thrown away.
According to a press release from the Salt Lake City School District, “clear and concise” procedures have been developed to prevent such incidents from happening again.
The release states: “1. students in all Salt Lake City School District schools will always receive a full meal, even if they have a negative balance. 2. No partial meals will be served.”
In January, Students at Uintah Elementary School who had zero or negative balances were given lunches only to have them taken and thrown away once the account status was discovered. The students were then given fruit and milk. Officials said at the time school employees had begun contacting parents about the account balances earlier in the week, but they said some parents said they had not received any notice of the account issue.
Two employees were placed on paid leave after parents expressed concern. The story gained national attention, and a Texas man inspired by the situation spent more than $400 to pay delinquent balances for school children in Houston.
The district’s press release included procedures for managing the breakfast and lunch accounts, which are provided below:
“Our objective is to create strong partnerships between our department and school administrators to ensure school meals are served in a caring, safe and nurturing environment. To achieve this objective, the following communication standard is expected of each kitchen manager:
1. At the end of each day, run a negative balance report for your school site. Black out free and reduced lunch eligibility status and circle all studentswho have a negative ten dollar (-$10) balance or greater. File a copy in the kitchen office and provide the school principal the original document before the final school bell rings.
2. Keep the school principal informed and ask for their assistance when a student account is getting out of hand.
3. Coordinate with the school principal how to effectively notify parents who have low or negative meal account balances. Parents must be notified at a $10 balance and every day when they have a negative account balance.
4. No district employee will ask a student for meal payments nor ask them to remind their parents. All communication about payments in arrears should be directed to the adults responsible.
The district and the board of education are continuing to review and investigate the child nutrition program to ensure strict adherence to these procedures and to determine what other changes may be necessary to fulfill their commitment to the children, parents, and city.”