After the USDA Waiver Expires, Under a federal waiver related to the pandemic, all meals for Richland School District Two students have been free since 2021. Now that the releases are over, school districts like Richland Two must pay off a nearly $500,000 meal debt.
Will Anderson says, “We now want to remind you, give you several months before the end of the school year that you need to make sure that you’re settled up in all your fees, particularly lunch fees, before the end of the year,”
Will Anderson, the Chief Operations Officer for Richland Two, says that the district is improving how it talks to families by using parent square, a new platform for families, to remind them that the old policy is coming back after years of not paying for meals.
On every Sunday, parents if you have a negative balance you would get a message reminding you through Parent Square, that you have a negative balance and put money on your account.
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Anderson tells WACH FOX News that 90% of parents in the district owe less than $100, but the community will work out a payment plan for the small number of parents who owe a lot.
Students who qualify for free or reduced lunch won’t be able to take part in this reinstatement unless they buy extra food for lunch.
A la carte extra food, extra milks you name it that is not reimbursable.
Families tell us that, in the end, it’s up to the parents to decide what to do. James Manning says, “I don’t think my daughter owes anything right now, but I think it’s my responsibility as a parent to cover those costs while I’m able to do it,”
Even so, Richland Two school officials say they want to hold parents accountable by bringing this school lunch debt back up. They tell us they will never turn away a student, no matter the balance.
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