Columbia schools consider collection agencies for lunch money debt

3 years 3 months 3 weeks ago Wednesday, May 27 2015 May 27, 2015 Wednesday, May 27, 2015 8:37:00 PM CDT May 27, 2015 in News
By: Samantha Myers, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

COLUMBIA - The Columbia Public School system lunch program is about $100,000 in debt. The school board is looking into using collection agencies as a possible solution to the growing debt. 

Nutrition Services Director Laina Fullum said the debt is due in part to needy families having a difficult time making ends meet, and one of the first things to be neglected is school lunches. CPS still feeds children regardless of the fact that it is accumulating debt. 

She said another issue is parents filling out the free and reduced meal plan application because it is complicated, and parents may not know that the application must get filled out every year. She also said some families may not qualify for a free and reduced meal plan but still have trouble paying for lunches. 

The collection agency would help follow up with parents on behalf of Columbia Public Schools. Fullum said the department would want the collection agency to be respectful because they do not want to alienate their students. Collection agencies would give families multiple options such as payment plans. 

"It's about working with their customers making sure that they understand what their options are," Fullum said.

MASSP Executive Director Phil Lewis said many schools are beginning to sub-contract things such as buses and custodial staff. 

"That is their job to just collect money, and they do that for a living so they have a pretty good idea of what techniques to use and usually are a bit more successful than schools who don't have that kind of person who's trained to do that," Lewis said.

One Columbia resident said he is not on board with the proposed collection agency plan. 

"Let's consider other options. Let's think about this a little bit longer. I don't think a collection agency is the way to go," David Arrant said.  

Fullum said the large debt makes the lunch department struggle financially and even more so now with a new set of expensive regulations that call for healthier food options served with school lunches. It is part of the Child Nutrition Reauthorization which requires all grains to be whole-grain, lower sodium content, lower fat content, a cap on calories, a quota of the amount of dark-green vegetables served each week, and a quota of orange and red vegetables. 

Fullum said the Child Nutrition Reauthorization makes lunches more expensive for the schools to produce, and she said children are not eating them. 

"Before it was optional for a student to take a fruit or a vegetable with all of their meals, but now it is required, and a lot of them are just throwing them away," Fullum said. 

"Lunch programs are always under a lot of scrutiny. Simply because you need to feed as many kids as you possibly can, and it's difficult to feed that many kids on a small budget, and so as a result I think a lot of school districts break even or go into debt," Lewis said. 

Fullum said CPS is working to fix the debt by streamlining its process over the past three years by increasing efficiency and trying to get a customer base back.

"We are trying to find products that students like and will eat because once we alienate our student population from the meals that we are serving, it's hard to get them back," Fullum said. 

She said if there is not a solution soon, the quality of the lunch product may eventually have to be compromised. 

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA - Columbia police said a fifth arrest has been made in connection with an alleged homicide on Sylvan Lane... More >>
26 minutes ago Friday, September 21 2018 Sep 21, 2018 Friday, September 21, 2018 3:50:00 PM CDT September 21, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Police arrested a man early Friday after reportedly finding him outside an apartment complex, looking into a... More >>
49 minutes ago Friday, September 21 2018 Sep 21, 2018 Friday, September 21, 2018 3:27:00 PM CDT September 21, 2018 in News
KANSAS CITY - The Missouri Western District Court of Appeals ruled Friday to allow the Clean Missouri Initiative to stay... More >>
1 hour ago Friday, September 21 2018 Sep 21, 2018 Friday, September 21, 2018 2:53:00 PM CDT September 21, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA – MU is one of only two Southeastern Conference universities to experience double-digit growth in new freshmen, while several... More >>
3 hours ago Friday, September 21 2018 Sep 21, 2018 Friday, September 21, 2018 1:12:00 PM CDT September 21, 2018 in News
SPRINGFIELD - President Donald Trump is set to campaign at the JQH Arena for U.S. Senate candidate Josh Hawley,... More >>
3 hours ago Friday, September 21 2018 Sep 21, 2018 Friday, September 21, 2018 12:43:00 PM CDT September 21, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - The University of Missouri Board of Curators announced a resolution Friday supporting the University of Missouri-Columbia's efforts to... More >>
4 hours ago Friday, September 21 2018 Sep 21, 2018 Friday, September 21, 2018 11:23:00 AM CDT September 21, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - 82,000 Americans are still missing as the result of our country's biggest wars. POW/MIA Recognition Day is... More >>
5 hours ago Friday, September 21 2018 Sep 21, 2018 Friday, September 21, 2018 10:59:00 AM CDT September 21, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - The Columbia Planned Parenthood clinic will stop abortion services after Oct. 1 following a court ruling allowing the... More >>
5 hours ago Friday, September 21 2018 Sep 21, 2018 Friday, September 21, 2018 10:20:00 AM CDT September 21, 2018 in News
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump challenged the woman accusing his Supreme Court nominee of sexual assault by name Friday,... More >>
6 hours ago Friday, September 21 2018 Sep 21, 2018 Friday, September 21, 2018 9:31:00 AM CDT September 21, 2018 in News
FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — The daughter of an 84-year-old woman with dementia alleges in a lawsuit that... More >>
7 hours ago Friday, September 21 2018 Sep 21, 2018 Friday, September 21, 2018 8:45:00 AM CDT September 21, 2018 in News
VIENNA - The Maries County Sheriff's Office SWAT Team, assisted by Missouri State Highway Patrol officers, arrested an armed man... More >>
9 hours ago Friday, September 21 2018 Sep 21, 2018 Friday, September 21, 2018 6:22:00 AM CDT September 21, 2018 in News
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Attorneys general from West Virginia and 10 other states are asking the U.S.... More >>
10 hours ago Friday, September 21 2018 Sep 21, 2018 Friday, September 21, 2018 5:34:37 AM CDT September 21, 2018 in News
(CNN) -- From January 2016 through February 2018, puppies sold at six pet store companies led to infections in 118... More >>
11 hours ago Friday, September 21 2018 Sep 21, 2018 Friday, September 21, 2018 4:26:41 AM CDT September 21, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri's Stop Human Trafficking Coalition's 2018 conference is taking place this weekend and is a reminder that... More >>
13 hours ago Friday, September 21 2018 Sep 21, 2018 Friday, September 21, 2018 2:54:00 AM CDT September 21, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - MU's School of Health Professions will be crafting a new curriculum starting Friday after the MU Board of... More >>
20 hours ago Thursday, September 20 2018 Sep 20, 2018 Thursday, September 20, 2018 8:04:00 PM CDT September 20, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA- A new MU Research building is set to be built by October 2021, after the MU Board of Curators... More >>
20 hours ago Thursday, September 20 2018 Sep 20, 2018 Thursday, September 20, 2018 7:32:00 PM CDT September 20, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - A warning from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services closed Stephens Lake Thursday afternoon. Columbia... More >>
21 hours ago Thursday, September 20 2018 Sep 20, 2018 Thursday, September 20, 2018 6:19:00 PM CDT September 20, 2018 in News
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The longtime aide of former Democratic leader Mike Sanders was sentenced to six months in... More >>
22 hours ago Thursday, September 20 2018 Sep 20, 2018 Thursday, September 20, 2018 6:00:00 PM CDT September 20, 2018 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 71°
5pm 73°
6pm 71°
7pm 69°
8pm 66°