Fargo News

Local school districts struggle with lunch debt, Fargo Public Schools’ lunch debt projected to reach $88,000

Fargo, North Dakota – As the school year approaches its end, local school districts are grappling with significant lunch debt. With the expiration of the COVID-19 waivers that provided free universal school lunches to students nationwide in July 2022, districts are facing financial challenges.

In January 2023, our news team began tracking school lunch debt and found that West Fargo schools reported a negative balance of approximately $10,000. However, thanks to generous donations, the district has managed to reduce the debt by over three thousand dollars.

Unfortunately, Moorhead and Fargo’s lunch debt has only increased since August. In January, Moorhead Area Public Schools reported a debt of $29,000, which has now escalated to over $46,000. The district clarifies that the balance rolls over from one school year to the next, and the Minnesota Free Meals program will not alter the debt process.

Fargo Public Schools’ Nutrition Services anticipates that lunch debt will reach approximately $88,000 by the end of the current school year. This amount has doubled since January. However, the district is fortunate to have received two substantial donations that will cover the entire debt, leaving $12,000 to contribute towards next year’s expenses.

Lunches in these districts typically cost between $2.50 and $2.75 per day. According to school policies, families with outstanding balances receive reminders, and collection efforts persist until the negative balance is resolved.

All districts emphasize that they encourage families facing financial difficulties to apply for free or reduced-price meals through their websites. Eligibility is determined based on annual household income and household size.

Jimmy Hathaway

Having spent my formative years in the beloved city of Grand Forks, I eventually relocated to Fargo during my second decade of life. The passion for journalism runs deep within my bloodline, as numerous close relatives have been, and some continue to be, engaged in the field as reporters and journalists. Outside of my professional pursuits, I cherish the moments spent in the company of my family.

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