School lunch debt is a problem all over the country. For many families, coming up with enough money for lunch is difficult. Schools feed students without money, but the families still technically owe for the meals. Sometimes people or charitable organizations step forward to pay off the debt, but more often than not, the debt piles up creating a burden for the school and the family. Schools often try and collect lunch debt but the methods of one school district are coming under fire.
Pennsylvania’s Wyoming Valley West School district sent a letter to around 1,000 families which threatened to report parents to “Dependency Court” if they did not immediately pay the outstanding lunch debt of their child. The letter went on to say that not paying could result in the child being removed from the home and placed into foster care:
“Your child has been sent to school every day without money and without a breakfast and/or lunch,” the letter read. “This is a failure to provide your child with proper nutrition and you can be sent to Dependency Court for neglecting your child’s right to food. If you are taken to Dependency court, the result may be your child being removed from your home and placed in foster care.”
Many people are now criticizing the school district for their debt collecting attempt. The general theme of the objection seems to be the threatening nature and harsh language of the letter for a situation that many view as complicated and unfortunate.
Sen., Bob Casey, D-PA., weighed in via twitter:
No child should have to imagine the horror of being ripped away from their parents because their family is struggling economically. These letters were callous and should never have happened. https://t.co/TVbsh2XIRy
— Senator Bob Casey (@SenBobCasey) July 19, 2019
The school district has since said they will send another letter with softer language in the future.