Just when you thought that things couldn’t get more stressful for students at school, one district has hired a collection agency to recover unpaid lunch money. That’s right: schools are turning over their students’ lunch debt.
The Cranston Public School district in Rhode Island have decided that it would be a good idea to take extreme measures to have families pay back the money they owe from school lunches. School administrators claim that they lost about $95,000 from unpaid lunches starting back in September 2016 until June of 2018. For this academic year, their total unpaid balance has already reached $45,000 and is growing.
Instead of working with the families, administrators are sending out a collection agency to do their job. Because it’s not like families are already feeling stressed enough from having to put dinner on the table every night while trying to make ends meet. Every child deserves to have a hot, fresh meal during the school year, but this school district thinks otherwise. They claim that the District lunch program cannot continue to lose revenue as it has these past two years.
“In an effort to reduce our unpaid balance, the District has retained the services of a collection agency,” Raymond Votto Jr., chief operating officer of the city’s public schools, wrote in a recent letter to parents, according to local reports (via Scary Mommy). “The company is Transworld Systems and they will begin their collection efforts effective January 2, 2019.”
If there’s one thing that students don’t have to worry about, it’s that they won’t go hungry if they don’t have the cash to pay for their lunch. Instead, the collection agency will go after parents and families and will try to force them to fork up the cash, should their debt reach over $20. Students will be able to eat up to five times with no money in their lunch account until a red flag is waved.
“Obviously we continue to feed our kids no matter what the balances are,” Votto said. Some schools across the country have reportedly done worse things to children from families who can’t afford to pay their school lunches, like throwing away entire meals in the garbage after discovering that a child has unpaid lunches. One report states that nearly half of all schools shame kids in some way over their debt.
Thankfully, several states, including California and New Mexico have passed a “lunch shaming” law that prohibits schools from humiliating students who can’t pay for their meals.