When about 30 students, including 10 who had prepaid or qualified for free lunches, had no cash to pay for food on the first day of school, it was taken from them and thrown away.
They were given juice and peanut butter crackers, instead, and sent home with a note asking parents for 35 cents to reimburse the school for the snack.
Parents and school officials at Holley-Navarre Primary School blamed the Santa Rosa County School District's no-credit policy for kids who forget to bring bagged lunches or $1.50 to pay for a school lunch.
Computers that were supposed to identify children who had prepaid or were to get free lunches were not operating.
"You can't have what you don't pay for, and once it has been in someone else's hands, you can't serve it," said assistant principal Tom Kennell.
He said lunchroom workers had no choice but to take away the food and dump it Monday.
"That appalled me more than anything," said Parent Teacher Association member Dorothy Slye, mother of a first-grader. "That they would take that food out of children's hands and throw it in the trash."