Back in September, Marketplace reported
that children at a New Jersey elementary school were not served lunch because their school lunch accounts were empty of funds. According to one parent, "There was a room full of kids who were not fed. Some of them did qualify for reduced lunch, which amounted to 40-cents per meal. The principle then informed us that she spoke to parents on the first day of school and that it was their responsibility to make sure their kids are fed." The school district had apparently decided that it could not afford to continue providing its back up meal to kids because they were already running a $200,000 deficit in their lunch program. As Marketplace noted, “In many other states, debt collectors are hired to go after parents with unpaid bills. There is even a debt collection agency that specializes in collecting lunch debt from parents.”
Debt collectors going after parents for lunch money? First graders going without food? This is a mess. It is bad for kids
be denied food – health-wise, academically, psychologically, any way you slice it. And yes, while there may indeed be some parents out there who can afford to pay for their children’s lunches and are simply neglecting to do so, the reality is that the cost of kids’ lunches is a real financial burden for many lower-income families.