Tamara Uselman says 75% of the schools in the nation carry debt in their food service programs.
Bismarck Public Schools is one of those on the list.
Tamara Uselman, Bismarck Public Schools Superintendent, says, “Right around 23,000 in unpaid balances and that’s for the kids still in our system, K through 12.”
The debt doesn’t end there, there’s another for students that have already graduated.
But, Uselman says it’s nothing recent, this has been an issue for 10 years and it’s not the student’s fault.
Uselman says, “Students who qualify for reduced meals, their parents are making up about 50% of the money owed. The other 50% of the money owed is by people who are on full pay and just aren’t paying attention and paying.”
Students are still eating and according to Bismarck Public Schools no student has ever had their lunch taken away from them.
“We think that’s harsh to do to a child these are hungry kids, kids need to be able to eat, to learn, some of our kids this is the meal they get for the day this lunch, so we feed our kids.”
If there is no money in a student’s account they will still get the same meal as everyone else.
“We were acting from the premise of love which is we are going to feed hungry kids and we are going to work with their parents to provide food for those children.”
Tamara Uselman says it is the parent’s responsibility to provide the money for a student, not the school.>
If a child is in debt, the parents are notified in a number of ways, either through phone call, text, email and letters in the mail.
Bismarck Public schools is concerned about the debt, but say it is solely on the parents to pay it off and that no student will be turned away.