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School To Pass Student Lunch Debt Over To Collection Agency

A lot of parents will lament how expensive it can get to raise children, but it isn’t any cheaper to educate them. That’s the reality that schools throughout the country face as they find themselves dealing with funding issues, as Reuters reported, thank in part to tax cuts.

When a school is forced to do more with less, it hurts more than usual when a program starts costing money. And one school district's desperate measures speak to how much they're feeling that hurt.

Feeding kids is getting expensive for Cranston Public Schools in Rhode Island.

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At first, the numbers don’t seem that threatening.

According to NBC4i, lunch at one of their elementary schools costs $2.50 per day, while lunch at a middle school or high school will run the school $3.25 per day.

But those little costs can add up quickly when families don't pay them and the school has to write them off.

Reddit | ewwsusie

From September of 2016 to June 30, 2018, Cranston Public Schools had to write off $95,508 in unpaid lunch bills. For this school year, the lunch program has already cost them $45,859.

Cranston Public Schools COO Raymond Votto Jr. said the district has already tried to collect on these unpaid bills "without much success."

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"The District lunch program cannot continue to lose revenue," Votto said. So in an effort to stem the flow of money, the district got in touch with a collection agency.

The company they've contacted is called Transworld Systems and they're scheduled to start collecting on January 2, 2019.

Getty Images | Sean Gladwell

If parents have an outstanding lunch bill of $20 or more and don't pay it off within 60 days, they'll hear from the agency.

Anyone who's had to deal with debt collectors before might be wincing right now, but let's go over how this will work first.


For one thing, these parents should not expect constant, harassing phone calls from the agents involved because this practice is illegal in the state of Rhode Island.

In fact, they should be surprised to receive any phone calls at all.

If a kid runs up a $20 lunch bill and nobody pays it, their parents can expect a letter that looks a little like this.

Reddit | escapeartist

According to NBC 10, the school district wants to take a "soft approach" with this and said that any communication with collection agencies will happen through the mail.

Votto also made sure to emphasize that students with unpaid lunch bills will receive the same food as paying students.

Reddit | ScoochMagooch

Regardless of whether their parents are dealing with a collection agency or not, they won't go hungry.

As Votto said, "We're feeding the children. That's not in dispute."

h/t: NBC4i