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To the lunch-less kids of Salt Lake City

Published January 31, 2014 12:25 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

You've probably heard that a lot of people are mad at your school.

Pretty much the whole world knows your lunches were thrown away and replaced with fruit snacks. You're on CNN. You're on NPR. You're on WBBJ of Madison County, Tennessee. People are talking about it in French, Spanish, and Chinese.

It might seem kind of weird that people are suddenly so interested in your lunch. Maybe everyone at your school knows that kids don't get lunch sometimes. Maybe you've seen this happen for awhile.

So why is everyone freaking out now?

The reason people are freaking out is that we didn't know a school in Utah would EVER throw away a kid's lunch because of a few dollars. You are kids. If someone takes your lunch, you can't leave school and find other food. You just have to stay hungry. That's not OK.

Everyone is wondering how this happened.

We know that someone who is involved with school lunches decided to take away some kids' meals at Uintah Elementary and other schools, right in front of all the other kids. That was a big mistake.

But that person didn't act alone. Other people who work at school helped take the lunches. Maybe they didn't want to. But they did help. What if your teachers knew this was happening and maybe felt bad about it, but didn't try to stop it? What if the principals knew about it but didn't say anything? What if the big bosses knew about it and let it happen?

Now we are finding out that other schools are taking away kids' lunches, too! Nobody involved had the bravery to question it. Instead everyone went along with this bad idea, and now it's common.

People are upset because it seems like a lot of adults knew something was wrong and did nothing about it.

Look, you kids are OK. You didn't starve to death, and you probably won't lose any more school lunches. This is a huge embarrassment for the people who run your school district. Some grown-ups are in trouble over this. I hope you will get lunch from now on (and not just milk and an orange. Barf. Milk and oranges taste terrible together).

So now it's time to get back to learning, and there's one big lesson in The Great Lunch Hooplah:

If something feels wrong to you, do something about it. Tell someone, or at least try to learn more about the situation. Don't wait for it to blow up in your face. Don't wait for someone to be harmed. Question the people in charge if you have to. You know the little nervous, sick feeling you get in your stomach? That means it's time to deal with a problem.

Or it could just mean you're hungry. But we hope that won't be an issue anymore.

—Erin Alberty