Screenshot: WPRI

The Cranston Public School District in Rhode Island is kicking off the New Year by sending debt collection agencies after parents who have not paid for school lunches since September.

NBC 10 reports that Cranston Schools Chief Operating Officer Raymond Votto Jr. recently notified parents of the decision via a letter. “In an effort to reduce our unpaid balance, the District has retained the services of a collection agency. The company is Transworld Systems and they will begin their collection efforts effective January 2, 2019,” the letter said.

The school is seeking debts from parents who owe $20 or more. Elementary school lunch costs $2.50 per day, and middle and high school students are charged $3.25 per day.

The school, which has dismissed $95,508 in unpaid lunches from September 2016 through June 2018, has a balance of $45,859 in unpaid lunches for this school year. “In the past, the school district has attempted to collect unpaid lunch balances without much success,” Votto said in the letter. “The District lunch program cannot continue to lose revenue.”

In the meantime, Votto said that school lunches will continue uninterrupted. “We’re feeding the children. That’s not in dispute. We offer free breakfast,” Votto said.

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Lois Clemens, the grandmother of a student in the school system, expressed empathy for both sides: “Yeah, $45,000 is a lot of money for the school district to not have, but then, on the other hand, I know what it’s like not to have enough money,” she said.

Votto did not immediately respond to Jezebel’s request for comment.