Like Countable?

Install the App
TRY NOW

Should Schools Turn Students’ Lunch Debt Over to Collection Agencies?

by Countable | Updated on 12.12.18

What’s the story?

  • A Rhode Island school district has hired a collection agency to recover unpaid student lunch balances.
  • It’s a problem schools face across the country, and chief operating officer of Cranston Public Schools, Raymond Votto Jr., said the district had tried to collect outstanding lunch bills from parents “without much success.”
"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," a letter to parents said.

What was the “unpaid balance”?

  • Between September 1, 2016 and June 30, 2018, the Cranston School District wrote off $95,508. The balance for the current academic year is $45,859.
"The District lunch program cannot continue to lose revenue," Votto said.

Will kids go hungry?

  • No. Votto said that even children who owe for multiple meals won’t be denied lunches.
  • "We’re feeding the children," Votto told the local NBC station. "That’s not in dispute. We offer free breakfast.” 

What other options do schools have?

  • As USA Today reported, “New Mexico outlawed lunch-shaming practices with a student bill of rights, which directs schools to work with parents to pay their debts or sign up for federal meal assistance.”
  • There have also been a number of successful crowdsourcing campaigns to erase school lunch debt.
  • Others question how the U.S. can afford to feed prisoners three meals a day but schools can’t provide lunches to children.

What do you think?

Should schools turn over student lunch debt to collection agencies? Should all schools offer free lunches? Take action and tell your reps, then share your thoughts below.

—Josh Herman

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / Steve Debenport)

Countable

Written by Countable

Leave a comment
(410)
  • Brenda
    Voted No
    12/12/2018
    ···

    This is a first world country, all children deserve the right to not go hungry.

    Like (76)
    Follow
    Share
  • Tobi
    12/13/2018
    ···

    No. This is absurd.

    Like (36)
    Follow
    Share
  • TexasTRex
    Voted Maybe
    12/13/2018
    ···

    I’m torn on this topic. I’ve worked at low socioeconomic schools for over 20 years. There are a lot of parents who qualify for free lunches for their children, but never fill out the paperwork. If they can’t afford the meals they need to be responsible enough to do the paperwork or send a lunch. There are those who are caught between the cracks who don’t qualified but really can’t afford them, either. Now, if they can’t afford it, it won’t matter if they are sent to a collection agency. However, schools shouldn’t have to bear the burden and costs. I worked breakfast and lunch duty for many years and honestly, it sickens me how much food is just thrown away. Government requires students to take so many items, but much of the time a ton is thrown away untouched (and milks unopened.) Then the kids will go spend money on junk food.

    Like (26)
    Follow
    Share
  • John
    Voted Yes
    12/12/2018
    ···

    When I went to school you paid for your lunch at the time you ate lunch. No money, lunch that day. When will actually hold ANYONE accountable for anything? We are $21 Trillion in debt and we continually want to add to that by offering more and more free things. How about we ask everyone to pony up their $60,000 each for our portion of the debt? Oh, don’t have that kind of money? Then please don’t continue to ask others to pay for those things YOU want that this country cannot afford.

    Like (15)
    Follow
    Share
  • Amy
    Voted No
    12/12/2018
    ···

    Penalizing kids for not having money to eat is ridiculous. There has to be a better way. Why are child nutrition departments not non-profit??

    Like (42)
    Follow
    Share
  • Clo
    12/13/2018
    ···

    Absolutely not! So many children cannot pay for their lunches. Parents are working 2-3 jobs and still have trouble putting meals on the table. There are so many kids that need breakfast as well. I don’t think we are helping anyone by sending parents to collections and also a lot of schools shame children for not having lunch money. We need to find better solutions.

    Like (19)
    Follow
    Share
  • Mary
    Voted Yes
    12/13/2018
    ···

    Fresh fruits, vegetables, and seeds and water are essential for kids to be healthy and learn. Schools have found fewer cases of aggression in schools which feed kids whole, fresh, unprocessed food. Give all the kids real food and tie it with home economics like they do in Japan. The students help to prepare the food and serve each other. Everyone wins, we have a healthier and better educated student body with fewer behavior problems. The expense is less and no one is shamed. The tax payers are spared the added expense of paying for debt collectors, as well.

    Like (10)
    Follow
    Share
  • Cosmo
    Voted Maybe
    12/12/2018
    ···

    I believe a parent is responsible for there child,feed,cloth,provide shelter and help raise them to be an asset to society. I know many parents only understand how to become a parent and no nothing about being a payment. Do what our government does, increase the cost to those who pay to cover those cost that other parents don’t pay. I assume the other option is———-increase school taxes to those who own property. Again penalize the good behavior. I remember one Christmas Day when my sister and I got one present each. My wife grew up without a doll. Why? Because one reason was her dad had half a lung removed and didn’t work for a year. My wife’s mother got a job that required her to leave home @ 5:30am and return 7pm. My wife at 9 years old prepared dinner following her mother’s written instruction. I am sure there are millions of people with similar if not worse stories. I am not in favor of freebies, especially when they last a lifetime.

    Like (6)
    Follow
    Share
  • January
    Voted No
    12/13/2018
    ···

    We live in a country that spends plenty on our prisons and not enough on schools. Forgive school lunch debt, for goodness sake! No brainer!

    Like (20)
    Follow
    Share
  • burrkitty
    Voted No
    12/13/2018
    ···

    That is f’d up. What is wrong with the people that propose these things?

    Like (19)
    Follow
    Share
  • Merry
    Voted No
    12/12/2018
    ···

    Is this a joke? Are our Congress / Senate debating this? If a child’s parents are delinquent with lunch money are we going to shame them? Or help them? What happen to compassion for the student?

    Like (18)
    Follow
    Share
  • Sara
    Voted No
    12/13/2018
    ···

    What? I cannot believe this would even be a question.

    Like (16)
    Follow
    Share
  • Cindy
    Voted No
    12/12/2018
    ···

    All public schools should have free lunches for all students!

    Like (11)
    Follow
    Share
  • Jeffrey
    Voted No
    12/12/2018
    ···

    For some kids, their meals at school are the only meals that they get. To turn that sent over to a debt collector is just cruel and mean and shows that no matter what, kids truly have to pay up to eat just like adults!!! Whoever even thought of this needs to be removed from the position their in with regards to children

    Like (11)
    Follow
    Share
  • Steven
    Voted No
    12/12/2018
    ···

    The food is already paid for with Tax money. Why do you need to buy the food with tax money, then charge the children for the food that was already purchased with their parents tax money?

    Like (11)
    Follow
    Share
  • Michael
    Voted No
    12/12/2018
    ···

    This is a just plain crazy idea. We can feed prisoners, we can surely feed our kids.

    Like (10)
    Follow
    Share
  • doingmypart
    Voted No
    12/13/2018
    ···

    Lunch should be part of public education. If you want students educated then food should be part of the educational cost. Statistics show that not eating lunch affects students performance. I don’t even have kids and want what’s best for our students, it’s a return on investment.

    Like (10)
    Follow
    Share
  • Kimberly
    Voted No
    12/12/2018
    ···

    This is your Republican Christian Conservative President and Congress and their disgraceful ideals. Hungry children should be fed not denied food. How about Trump and his Administration STOP gojng on all their vacations and flying in private jets at tax payers expense? Commercial air and coach seats were good enough for the Obama Administration and cabinet so why not Trump’s?

    Like (8)
    Follow
    Share
  • I.Got.an.Idea...
    Voted No
    12/13/2018
    ···

    All kids need to go to school. All kids need to eat. Raise school taxes on families who have school-age children. Everyone else already pays school taxes, even if they have no kids. That’s fine. It creates safer neighborhoods and helps keep kids out of trouble, benefiting all Citizens. Provide free lunch to all and then charge for the luxuries, ice cream, fries, whatever is not on the main lunch menu. Real simple - if you are claiming child dependents on your taxes, you pay more to cover the lunch program.

    Like (7)
    Follow
    Share
  • Truth4Us
    Voted No
    12/13/2018
    ···

    Are you out of your minds?

    Like (7)
    Follow
    Share
  • katiebbull
    Voted No
    12/13/2018
    ···

    Children should not be punished for their parents not being able to afford school lunches. As a teacher, I know my students can’t learn if they’re too hungry to focus. We should be ashamed that children are going hungry at public schools in the United States. There is no such thing as other people’s children. All kids are our kids.

    Like (6)
    Follow
    Share