- Cranston Public Schools notified parents that in 2019, debts owed on lunches would be turned over to a debt collection organisation that would act on debts above $US20.
- Cranston says current debts for the year total $US45,859.
- 43% of students in the district are eligible for free or reduced lunch.
A Rhode Island school district has taken ‘give me all your lunch money’ to another level, hiring a collection agency to recoup lunch debts owed by parents.
NBC reports that the Cranston Public Schools notified parents that in 2019, debts owed on lunches would be turned over to a debt collection organisation that would act on debts above $US20. Lunch in the district costs $US2.50 per day for elementary school students and $US3.50 per day for middle and high school students.
“In an effort to reduce our unpaid balance, the District has retained the services of a collection agency. The company is Transworld Systems and they will begin their collection efforts effective January 2, 2019,” wrote the school’s chief operating officer Raymond Votto Jr. in a letter addressed to parents.
Votto claimed that in the last two years, the school district lost $US95,508 from lunch debt. He says the debt for the current school year is $US45,859.
The move has raised questions about the effect on struggling families in the district, where 43% of students are eligible for free or reduced lunch, according to a Rhode Island report from February.
Lois Clemens, who has a grandson at a Cranston elementary school told NBC, “Yeah, $US45,000 is a lot of money for the school district to not have, but then on the other hand I know what it’s like not to have enough money.”
The school reportedly plans to still feed kids the same meal regardless of whether or not their parents owe money. Previously, the district fed kids who owed money a different meal.
Cranston isn’t the first district to send lunch debt to collections. In 2012, an Ohio district sent $US900,000 in lunch debt to a collections agency, according to HuffPost. In Davidson County, North Carolina, a 2011 policy ordered debts above $US37.50 be sent to collections. In Missouri, Columbia Public Schools began debating a proposal in November that would send debts above $US25 to a collection agency.
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