Sometimes I despair at how people can seem to lack the kind of normal human instinct that should kick in when asked to do something that seems so obviously wrong. Take what happened at an elementary school in Utah.
Up to 40 kids at Uintah Elementary in Salt Lake City picked up their lunches Tuesday, then watched as the meals were taken and thrown away because of outstanding balances on their accounts — a move that shocked and angered parents.
Jason Olsen, a Salt Lake City District spokesman, said the district’s child-nutrition department became aware that Uintah had a large number of students who owed money for lunches.
As a result, the child-nutrition manager visited the school and decided to withhold lunches to deal with the issue, he said.
But cafeteria workers weren’t able to see which children owed money until they had already received lunches, Olsen explained.
The workers then took those lunches from the students and threw them away, he said, because once food is served to one student it can’t be served to another.
The school district has gone into damage control mode and apologized.
But what bothers me is you would think that there is some basic instinct in everyone that would have caused someone to say, “Wait a minute. Taking a child’s lunch and throwing it away not only makes no sense at all but is unbelievable cruel and humiliating. We have to deal with this in another way.” But that does not seem to have happened.
Even the thought of withholding lunches because some parents hadn’t paid strikes me as inhumane. But this is the new normal, where cutting food stamps for the poor and denying little children school lunches because they cannot afford to pay is justified as ‘being financially responsible’ instead of what it truly is, an attack on the poor because they are the most defenseless.