Districts Draw the Line on School Meal Debt
School districts have resorted to hiring debt collectors, employing constables, and swapping out standard meals for scaled-back versions to try to coerce parents to pay off school lunch debt that, in recent years, appears to have surged as the result of a faltering economy and better record-keeping.
While the average school lunch costs just about $2, when meals go unpaid repeatedly, cafeteria managers have found the debt adds up quickly. In New York City schools, for example, several years of uncollected meal payments led to the accumulation of $42 million in debt.
Ultimately, the burden falls to cash-strapped districts to pay off if school food-service departments can't collect. Nutrition directors, under pressure from school boards about the losses, are clamoring for help...
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