Mom outraged, employee on leave after student served lunch from trash can

UPDATE: School district officials spoke Thursday about the incident and the steps they have taken in response, click here for details.

Previous story continues below.

PLEASANT GROVE, Utah — A mother in Pleasant Grove is furious with staff at the city’s junior high school after she said they fed her daughter lunch out of a trash can.

Sierra Prince is a special needs student in the 8th grade at Pleasant Grove Junior High School. While Wednesday was only her second day at school, she already isn’t looking forward to her third day.

“I don’t even know if I want to go to school tomorrow at all,” Prince said.

According to Prince, when she asked for a piece of pizza for lunch on Wednesday afternoon, she was told there was none left. However, after insisting she wanted pizza, a second kitchen employee pulled out what was left from the top of a trash can.

“I didn’t really like the taste of it at all,” Prince said. “It was nasty.”

A diabetic with learning disabilities, Prince explained she felt she had to listen to her school appointed aid and the staff.

“I didn’t want to eat it, but I was dosed for pizza anyway because I’m diabetic. So, I had to eat it,” Prince said.

The decision by the school isn’t sitting well with Prince’s mother, who learned about the incident when her daughter returned from school.

Nicole Cordoba said: “How could that happen to a child? What adult makes that decision? It’s common sense: We don’t eat out of trash cans.”

After Cordoba complained to the Alpine School District on Wednesday afternoon, the district’s Nutrition Services Director sent an email to school employees. Cordoba gave FOX 13 News a copy.

In part, the director said, “This was totally unacceptable. Your employee needs a reprimand and a discipline warning issued immediately. We never serve food that has been placed in a garbage can.”

According to a school district spokesman, a lunch manager has been placed on administrative leave, as a result of what happened. The district plans to investigate the incident further.

“Sierra can’t make her own decisions on what she eats,” Cordoba said. “That’s why they hired the helper. Not only one person made the decision for Sierra to eat out of the trash, three adults did.”

Cordoba has a meeting scheduled with the junior high’s principal and other district employees on Thursday afternoon.

49 comments

    • Dwayne

      How hard up for a story is Fox News? The student made a pretty good case for needing the pizza, although a little cheese would have made the turkey roll a comparable dish. What was the lunch worker supposed to do once the student informed her of the medical urgency for pizza? And nobody humiliated her but her mom making a fuss and on Fox News.

      • Jennifer Kelly

        Some phools will take EVERY opportunity to turn a discussion political, you sir are that phool:-/

      • Laurie Bell

        So feeding a special needs child with diabetes, food from the trash is appropriate in your opinion? You think children, who are at the mercy of public school staff, should be fed garbage and nothing done. No outcry. No shame brought upon the school and employees for FEEDING GARBAGE TO A CHILD. Hm. Single? Uneducated? Just a jerk? All the above?

      • Camjacked

        Dwayne, common sense isn’t your strongest suit is it. School Lunch Managers are educated in Nutrition. A comparable meal to Pizza could have easily been substituted. That substitute may have been a bit difficult to explain to the Student however, that is no excuse for 3 Adults working in a School atmosphere to make that kind of a Judgement call. Pure idiocy. The Lunch Manager was the sacrificial Lamb…. all 3 of the adults should be on Suspettion.

  • JFE

    There are questions left unanswered here in this story. Also, if school lunch cannot meet the needs of a child with decent food, lunch from home might be an alternative.

  • no more five oh

    The lunch worker is on a extra paid vacation. She should be up on charges not vacation and fired. There is a lot of people that would do the job properly.

  • Jennifer

    Are you people for real!? It is by no means right to feed a child from a garbage can, the pizza should not have been thrown away by a kitchen employee if lunch was not over. So the only thing we can see here is she got it from the other garbage cans that children must have been throwing away. Other wise pizza would still have been avalable.
    I dont know how many of you really realize how many food born illnesses there are out there If that district employee was properly trained she never would have even thought about the garbage. Her being dosed for the pizza they could have had something else that could have been given to the little girl. If not her mother should have been called. No right does another adult make the choice to feed a child out of a garbage can. This little girl already has enough to deal with in life now she has kids that will make fun of her.

    • Bobert

      I can tell you right now- I have personally worked with Sierra and although she has some struggles, she is PERFECTLY capable of making her own decisions in a time like this. She’s actually very manipulative and tries to use her diabetes to get out of stuff she doesn’t want to do, (“I can’t read because I’m low”, we tested her and she was fine). So before you go on feeling outraged just remember that there are always two sides to the story. I’m sure she could have eaten something else or brought something to eat from home (something her mother had agreed to and was SUPPOSED to do but hardly ever followed up on) in a situation like this, and I highly doubt that the any other kid would’ve complained. Her mother is just as manipulative and pushy to always get her way (unfortunately that’s where Sierra gets it from) and I’m incredibly irritated that this has even made the news.

  • frauhedwig

    1 Her mom knowing that she has a special diet should have made her lunch and sent it to school with her! My mom did I could not have sugar, food dye, chocolate, or anything like that. 2 You do not force someone to put something on the menu that is not there for the day. 3 The school should have call the mom and say bring your kid a pizza because she cannot eat anything we are serving. 4. If her mom did not then it would be all on the mother.

    • Denise

      Wrong!! It was on the menu, they gave her insulin for it, she went to lunch and they didn’t have it. She needed to have food to cover the amount of insulin she was given. She was scared because Type 1 diabetes can be scary. The school should have called the mother and asked what other food they could give her. Better yet…the aid should have known what to do.

      • Elizabeth Chubbuck

        Where does it state she was given INSULIN prior to lunch?? If you have to be GIVEN insulin to be able to eat, you are eating the WRONG food. Pizza for a diabetic? BS. You don’t shoot in the insulin then go “Oops! Too much, we better counter it with enough food to balance it. She needs to bring her own meals. ANd this BS it tasted bad? It was ON TOP, it didn’t somehow amazingly change its flavor in the few seconds or minutes it had been residing on TOP of the trash. ALL government issued lunch food is cheap and tastes lousy.

    • Laurie Bell

      Diabetics are allowed to eat anything they want to (except gluten if they have celiac, which this girl does not). They give a shot for it. My son is T1D and when he was going to school, we would coordinate with kitchen staff and the nurse, that was when he was in kindergarten. Now, he knows how many units of insulin are needed for how many carbs eaten with are usually provided for school lunches. He’s 10 and has been doing that since age 8yo. No “special diet” is really needed. The school HAS TO accommodate the student. It’s the law. It’s called a 504 plan that expressly details how a child’s needs are to be met in school. If they weren’t adhered to, they violated federal law.

  • first world problems

    I bet starving children in 3rd world countries would have been happy to have that pizza out of our extent clean trash cans. Way to make mountains out of mole hills.

    • Pete

      But that’s not the point. We aren’t in a third world country thankfully, therefore a student at a junior high school with the means to have decent lunch should have exactly that. Get off your soap box. No one thinks you’re special for “standing up” for third world kids on Fox News’ website.

    • nonmon

      Or you know. A kid with special needs that doesn’t know any better… Do you tell kids in wheel chairs to just” learn to walk already, gosh”?

    • Laurie Bell

      Your comment is the sort that happens when people who don’t know anything, much less the complications of diabetes and the details of the story, open their ignorant mouth holes and spout stupidity. Do you know what a diabetic siezure is? Do you know what happens when you give a shot of insulin and then don’t have the right amount of food that the insulin is suppose to cover? No? Then shut up. This is a kid who has probably gotten sick many times due to too much insulin and not enough food. The school violated federal law that protects kids with special needs in the school system. It’s not complicated. You FEED THE CHILD. School cafeterias have LOTS of food in their pantries and refrigerators. What they did was criminally negligent had she gotten sick and is deserving of pink slips.

  • nonmon

    I can’t believe how much blaming the victim is going on in the comments. Perhaps you didn’t read the article? 1: the girl is special needs and has an aid because she can’t make decisions on her own. 2: she was insisting on pizza because that’s what her insulin dosage was for. 3: being S.N. she probably has an IEP. I would guess in that IEP it has her dietary needs listed and how the school will meet those needs (this part I’m speculating). If you don’t know what an IEP is, it’s a personalised list of what services your special needs child will get and becomes law once signed. Also for all the “it’s no big deal, my kids eat out of the trash”. Congratulations, you’re not in the special needs community! Or you would know that most S.N. kids are immunocompromised. That means things that won’t make you sick could send them to Primary’s to spend a week or more.

  • Rhonda

    I’m a special education teacher. I feel there is probably more to the story. I don’t know the truth about the pizza that was in the garbage can. However I do know something about different types of children with special needs. Some kids perseverate on one thing and can’t move on. Some do not handle change very well. Some kids act out when they don’t get what they expect. It isn’t necessarily because they are a brat, it could be part of their disability. I can see staff trying to accommodate a student in order to keep them from melting down or even so they can move on and so that the issue doesn’t set the tone for the rest of the day. Of course, a child should not be given food from a garbage can. I will also tell you students who only have diabetes and a learning disability do not typically have a personal aid. Aids assist classes, usually self-contained classes. For a child to have a personal aid, there is usually severe behavior involved. Of course, I’m talking from my 32 years experience teaching various types of special education students, I do not know this particular child’s situation.

    • Jennifer

      I don’t know why the teacher or aide didn’t inform the lunchroom of a late arriving student and to pull a pizza for her. My son has ASD and it would have been hard for him to accept something else once it was in his mind that was what was being served to him.

  • Kaitlyn

    Many of you are so misinformed. The little girl is a Type 1 diabetic with special needs. This means that she is insulin dependent because her body cannot produce it on it’s own. The insulin signals the liver to store the glucose. She had signed up to have pizza that day and was given an insulin injection for a dose that would cover the amount of carbohydrates in the slice of pizza. When she was told there was no more pizza (because apparently they threw it away), she said she needed the pizza (as she knew she needed for the insulin dose.)This girl could have gone into shock from a drop in glucose from not eating enough (or anything) for that matter. Instead of contacting a school nurse, aide, or parent about what else to give the young girl that could balance out the dose, they gave her a piece of pizza that they had threw in the trash can. It is so wrong. The lunch staff clearly need to reevaluate their morals.

  • Jayson

    This type of insanity is why schools shouldn’t be responsible for dealing with these types of issues in the first place. The point of schools is education and if a child has special dietary constraints the responsibility should fall on the parents

  • Amy Camille Denton

    She gave herself enough insulin to cover the carbohydrates in the pizza. She could have had another source of carbohydrates….peanut butter sandwich, meat and cheese sandwich. It’s about the carbs. No doubt this young developmentally delayed child pitched a fit over not being able to get the pizza but it was up to the adult to give her an equivalent amount of carbohydrates. Surely someone in the cafeteria would understand its about the amount of carbohydrates.

  • Deb

    It would seem having her picture plastered all over the online newspaper and on tv would humiliate her even more…..come on mom use some common sense…..this needs to be addressed but not at the expense of your daughters privacy!

  • m

    She was LATE for lunch. She came in AFTER the 10 minute bell to let her know lunch was ending then she demanded pizza. She sounds like a spoiled brat and her mom is to blame. I teach school and I have NEVER had a student throw a tantrum like this girl. I have several students to take insulin and eat school food and bring snacks from home. Maybe she should bring lunch from home, it will be much healthier for her and the only person she can now blame for not getting what she wants is mom.

    • Jennifer

      If you teach, then you must know about Autism Spectrum Disorder where children have schedules that are followed and they have to be prepared for what is to happen in advance. If this child had an aide, this child can’t be held responsible for being late. She wasn’t wandering the halls by herself. Perhaps she was with the counselor or the Case Worker at school and they were working out the kinks of her schedule making her late for lunch. It was after all only the second day.

    • B

      Maybe you need to reevaluate your career choice ? Do commonly call children brats? I don’t want you teaching any child I know!

  • Jennifer

    There is another factor involved in this story. The girl has a learning disability. They do not go into detail, but she had an aide with her and knowing how autism works, I am assuming this poor girl is on the spectrum. If she was told she was to have pizza, that is what she had in her mind that she was going to have. Substituting something else would have complicated the problem. She would have had a meltdown and possibly cause herself or someone else harm. However, all this could have been solved by the teacher or aide informing the lunchroom that they had one more student to be served and she was running late. Could they, please, hold a pizza meal back for her. Problem solved.

  • cricket

    I have three diabetic children and sorry that worker would need a hospital after I got done with them. This s simply misuse of power and child abuse. If we fed our children out of the trash we would be arrested.

  • candice

    This pisses me off!!! Come to Oklahoma we will take care of your child and any child with special needs! I work for a company who specializes in autism/behavioral and other physical disabilities

  • Danica DeCosto

    But then why was it even in the trash if there weren’t something wrong with it? It was still lunch time, right? So they wouldn’t have just thrown it away because lunch was over.

  • Laurie Bell

    Obviously you have never been in a school lunchroom. Trashcans are full of food, beverages and trash that is from the floor and used napkins on tables. It is NOT a clean container that you can just pull the food out of and eat. If you truly think that, go on and do that in any fast food restaurant around. It’s basically the same thing.

  • nonmon

    Perhaps you missed the part where the girl is special needs and doesn’t have the capacity to make decisions for herself. That’s why she has an aid.

  • Denise

    Do you realize she was given insulin for the amount of carbs in the pizza?! She was scared about not eating the food she was given insulin for. My daughter is type 1 diabetic and does her insulin before lunch. You must always make sure to eat enough to cover the insulin or their blood sugar will crash and can cause them to pass out or have a seizure.

  • Nicole

    I am a type 1 diabetic. She stated that she was dose for pizza. If you know nothing about diabetes, let alone insulin dependent diabetes, know this. Being dosed means that she is give a number for the amount of carbohydrates that are in the food one is about to eat. The person is then given the amount of insulin that is required for that number of carbohydrates via insulin needle or pen. Once that insulin is injected, the person has a limited amount of time to not only eat but eat the proper amount of carbs injected for. If one doesn’t eat in time they get confused, jittery, start sweating and see dots, some experience blind spots in their vision. If they don’t eat what was injected for then the same can happen and they can go into hypoglycemia which can be deadly. In this case some can have seizures (which has happened to me) and comas, and if not taken care of soon and properly, it can lead to death… with this being said she was smart enough to know that she had been given enough insulin for pizza. The school should have been prepared for situations such as this, her helper should have assisted in helping her make another choice if the pizza was gone, by finding equal carbs and protein until a snack or meal could be given. The school was unprepared and the helper should have known.

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