ENGLEWOOD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Parents of some New Jersey school kids are learning that there really is no such thing as a free lunch.
One local district has threatened to report anyone who doesn’t pay for their kid’s school meals.
“We’re just contacting parents to say, ‘Hey, can you pay the bill?” Englewood Superintendent of Schools Robert Kravitz said.
The question seems simple enough, but as CBS2’s Valerie Castro reported, the district said not enough parents are paying for school lunches.
The district has come up with a solution.
“The last resort would be to call the state and child protective services and say this is some type of, ‘You’re hurting the child, you’re not taking care of the child, that’s your responsibility,'” Kravitz said.
Students are never denied a meal at school if they don’t have the cash, but it’s adding up.
The school district said an audit revealed $100,000 in unpaid food. With school lunches costing $2.50 it comes out to 40,000 unpaid meals.
“There are no systems in place here. As a new superintendent, we have a new business administrator, we have new systems in place so that things work much more efficiently,” Kravitz said.
The district said the new policy first calls for letters to be sent home to parents.
That’s followed up by phone calls, face to face meetings, and finally a call to the state.
“It’s taxpayer money and we want to make sure we’re being paid,” Kravitz said.
Some parents said the new measures are too tough.
“That’s way extreme. Child protective services? That ain’t good,” first grade parent Hezekiah House said.
Others understood the concern.
“We’re not perfect people. Parents have a lot on their plate, but if this is something that’s constantly happening with the same adult, same parent, same child then that’s something child protective services needs to get involved in,” third grade Shamena Posey said.
The district plans to implement the policy in the fall.