A school district in Anoka County, Minnesota has hired debt collectors to go after unpaid lunch money, a portion of the district’s debt that now totals $160,000 in unpaid balances.
Those responsible for that sum, the Anoka-Hennepin School District says, represent just one percent of the district — roughly 370 students out of 38,000.
At least one family, however, has an estimated $4,600 in lunch money debt, according to Noah Atlas, director of the schools’ child nutrition program.
According to KTSP, an ABC news affiliate, that sum is the equivalent of a student completing all four years of high school without ever paying for lunch. The district, which previously limited its payment reminders to calls and letters home, is now the first of its kind to hire a collections agency to do the dirty work.
“It's really not to punish anyone in particular," Atlas told KTSP. “It's really just to be fiscally responsible with the program so that it will be there for everyone.” Calls from the collections agency will begin after January 1, 2016. If families still don’t pay, there could be deeper repercussions for the students, Atlas said.