Columbia schools consider collection agencies for lunch money debt

2 years 10 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
ST. LOUIS — A judge is expected to consider a request to disqualify St. Louis prosecutors from one of the... More >>
1 hour ago Tuesday, April 24 2018 Apr 24, 2018 Tuesday, April 24, 2018 10:35:00 AM CDT April 24, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Boone County deputies arrested a man on Monday after he allegedly tried to meet up with who he... More >>
2 hours ago Tuesday, April 24 2018 Apr 24, 2018 Tuesday, April 24, 2018 9:01:30 AM CDT April 24, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - The Central Missouri Humane Society is celebrating its 75th anniversary, but its leadership isn't content with where the... More >>
2 hours ago Tuesday, April 24 2018 Apr 24, 2018 Tuesday, April 24, 2018 8:44:00 AM CDT April 24, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - On Monday, more than 100 volunteers began the week-long effort to deliver more than 5,700 meals to raise... More >>
4 hours ago Tuesday, April 24 2018 Apr 24, 2018 Tuesday, April 24, 2018 7:04:00 AM CDT April 24, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA – The Columbia City Council met Monday night in a work session to discuss ways to improve Columbia's water... More >>
15 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 8:00:00 PM CDT April 23, 2018 in Top Stories
COLUMBIA – Hundreds gathered at the first ever Japanese Spring Festival on MU’s campus Monday afternoon. Student Momoko Tamamura came... More >>
16 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 7:21:00 PM CDT April 23, 2018 in Top Stories
JEFFERSON CITY – One local woman is reflecting on her decision to vote for President Donald Trump after some have... More >>
16 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 7:00:00 PM CDT April 23, 2018 in Top Stories
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The law firm representing the ex-husband of the woman who had an affair with Missouri... More >>
17 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 5:45:00 PM CDT April 23, 2018 in Continuous News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — A Democratic Missouri state lawmaker says he won't step down despite facing backlash for repeatedly calling... More >>
18 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 5:21:20 PM CDT April 23, 2018 in Continuous News
COLUMBIA - MU staff members spent Monday afternoon discussing how the university could become Columbia's "employer of choice" again with... More >>
18 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 5:05:00 PM CDT April 23, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Residents moving into the Lynn Street Cottages in Columbia not only obtain four new walls, they also receive... More >>
19 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 4:14:00 PM CDT April 23, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Students at Rock Bridge High School will be attending prom this weekend, and for the first time ever,... More >>
19 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 4:13:00 PM CDT April 23, 2018 in Continuous News
JOPLIN - An EF-5 tornado struck the city of Joplin on May 22, 2011. The next day Jeff Neal, a... More >>
20 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 3:29:00 PM CDT April 23, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY – Tax reform in Missouri is one step closer to becoming a reality. The Missouri House Ways... More >>
20 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 2:56:00 PM CDT April 23, 2018 in News
JOPLIN - More businesses, new schools and new homes- one drive through Joplin reveals a clear transformation from devastation to... More >>
21 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 2:20:00 PM CDT April 23, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY – Lawmakers in Missouri added a $3 million dollar line to the Attorney General’s budget for sexual assault... More >>
21 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 2:11:00 PM CDT April 23, 2018 in News
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Latest on shooting at Tennessee restaurant that left four dead (all times local):... More >>
22 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 1:22:00 PM CDT April 23, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - When it comes to losing weight, many of us start with looking at our diet. Are we eating... More >>
23 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 12:21:00 PM CDT April 23, 2018 in Weekly Wellness
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 67°
12pm 68°
1pm 70°
2pm 73°
3pm 75°