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Utah cafeteria worker who threw out kids' lunches resigns

Published August 26, 2014 11:08 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

The cafeteria worker who earlier this year threw away dozens of kids' lunches after their parents failed to pay for the food on time has resigned from Uintah Elementary School.

Salt Lake City School District spokesman Jason Olsen confirmed on Monday that the worker, known as Miss Shirley, resigned last week. He said the district did not ask her to leave, and it was her decision. He did not respond to a question about whether it had to do with the lunch incident earlier this year.

Attempts to reach the cafeteria worker for comment on Monday were not immediately successful.

In an earlier interview with The Salt Lake Tribune, Shirley said she trashed the lunches of kids with negative account balances, giving them milk and fruit instead because her boss was watching her that day. The Tribune agreed at the time not to use Shirley's last name because of threats that she said had been made against her.

The incident drew national attention and spurred the district as well as several others to change their policies. The Salt Lake City district pledged afterward to serve kids only full lunches regardless of their account balances and to bring up the matter of past due payments only with parents, not children.

In her earlier interview with The Tribune, Shirley revealed that she had received a written warning from the district informing her that "you have not met the expectations related to your role as nutrition manager at Uintah Elementary nor as an employee of the Salt Lake City School District."

That warning described concerns including that Shirley provided "false" and "misleading" information that she routinely replaced kids' meals when she did not, and that she attempted to contact parents with outstanding balances and consulted with the principal when she had not.

Shirley told the Tribune she didn't think she had lied to her supervisors or given them false information.

She did acknowledge, however, it was difficult to always notify all parents of their balances because she was short-staffed. She also said she was not routinely replacing kids' lunches when they were behind on balances because she didn't have the heart to.

The district's board is scheduled to hear reports on the incident from an independent investigator at its next meeting Sept. 2.