Charleston Co. schools prepare to handle unpaid lunch bills


CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) – For the past two years, the federal government has taken note so students nationwide can have free lunch, but that’s changing this year as USDA COVID-19 relief money dries up.

But with the district billing students again, the problem of unpaid lunch bills is set to return.

Over the past 10 years, the District Nutrition Services Department has absorbed $1.7 million in unpaid student meals. This debt is cleared each year. The last time student debt was wiped out in 2020, they wiped out about $124,000.

Superintendent Walter Campbell told school board members in May that he expected the amount of debt could reach $700,000 in the next school year.

“That debt comes from nutrition services, from our budget, and that student debt could still be high this year,” Campbell said Monday. “We hope not. We are going to do everything we can to contact the parents to tell them that we need money in your account and to offer them as many options as possible so that we do not have this high debt.

The district operates a free and reduced meal program, but you must apply for it. You can find information on how to apply on the school district’s website.

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