Charleston Co. Schools brace for dealing with unpaid lunch bills

Published: Jul. 25, 2022 at 9:12 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 25, 2022 at 9:20 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - For the last two years, the federal government has picked up the tab so students around the country could eat lunch for free, but that changes this year as COVID-19 relief money from the USDA dries up.

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

Over the last 10 years, the district’s nutrition services department has absorbed $1.7 million in unpaid students’ meals. That debt is wiped out every year. The last time student debt was cleared in 2020, they eliminated about $124,000.

Executive Director Walter Campbell told school board members in May, that he predicts the debt number could rise to as much as $700,000 this upcoming school year.

“That debt has come out of nutrition services, out of our budget, and that student debt could be high again this year,” Campbell on Monday. “We hope not. We are going to do everything we can to contact the parents to say hey we need money on your account and give as many options so we don’t have that debt that high.”

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

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