A Utah elementary school handed out lunch to 40 kids on Tuesday whose parents were behind on payments, then took the food away and threw it in the garbage.
"She took my lunch away and said, 'Go get a milk,'" Sophia Isom, a Grade 5 student at Salt Lake City's Uintah Elementary School, told NBC affiliate KSL.com. "I came back and asked, 'What's going on?' Then she handed me an orange. She said, 'You don't have any money in your account so you can't get lunch.'"
Erica Lukes, whose 11-year-old daughter had her lunch trashed, told the Salt Lake Tribune it was "traumatic and humiliating."
Jason Olsen, spokesman for the Salt Lake City District, conceded the "situation could have and should have been handled in a different manner."
He said the school notified parents about negative balances on Monday.
Cafeteria workers didn't know who to withhold lunch from until they processed the payments.
"We apologize," Olsen told the Utah People's Post.