Why are so many families behind on school lunch debt? It’s complicated

Oct 15, 2019, 12:19 PM
school lunch debt...
After two years of getting free school lunch, the program is ending. {Photo: Getty Images)

Many Utah school districts are grappling with hundreds of thousands of dollars in school lunch debt — but they could be eligible for help they’re just not requesting.

That’s according to Ben Horsley, spokesman for the Granite School District. As of May, Horsley said Granite had $750,000 in outstanding school lunch debt. On Dave & Dujanovic Tuesday, he said it’s still an issue statewide.

“I want to be clear, this isn’t just a Granite School district problem,” Horsley said. “There are 41 school districts in the state of Utah and they all struggle with the same thing: individual families who are unwilling to get on the free and reduced program, and at the same time are unwilling to pay their lunch balances.”

Horsley said that by the end of last school year their deficit grew to almost a million dollars.

“Roughly 60% of our students are eligible for free and reduced lunch,” Horsley says, “[but] that doesn’t mean that they all participate or apply.”

If those students did apply, it could help everyone, he says, because their lunch fees could be waived and the district would be reimbursed.

This year, Horsley says the district’s lunch debt problem has been improving, but he says when they are left with a deficit at the end of the year, that money comes out of the general fund.

“At the end of the day, I’m not going to let a kid go hungry or give them a ‘sun-butter’ sandwich and make them feel like less of a kid,” he said.

To see if your family qualifies for free or reduced lunch, Horsley recommended filling out a one-page online form that can be found here.


We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

All News

savings system right on the money...
Mark Jones

Economists are worried of a recession in 2023, financial expert weighs in

Many economists are fearing a recession in 2023 despite the U.S. economy ending last year better than expected.
1 day ago
The Utah Education Association is opposed to H. B. 215. The UEA says school choice and a teacher pa...
Devin Oldroyd

School choice bill is “limiting” public schools, UEA president says

Utah Education Association president Renee Pinkney says the controversial school choice bill is "weakening" and "limiting" public schools.
1 day ago
Spanish Fork High School in Spanish Fork is pictured on Friday March 12, 2021. Students at Spanish ...
Mark Jones

Concurrent enrollment provides students with options in Nebo School District

Programs such as concurrent enrollment can give high school students and their parents options.
1 day ago
artificial intelligence banjo...
Curt Gresseth

ChatGPT: Plagiarism super-tool for students or AI brainstorming generator?

Will the future of AI be the interactive chatbot ChatGPT helping cheaters ace exams and tests or a new tool to assist all students in learning?
1 day ago
Elizabeth Weiler

UTA board looks at FrontRunner expansion in Utah County

Utah County is the fastest growing county in the state so UTA is considering a number of expansions to their current FrontRunner and bus lines. 
1 day ago
Lehi City officials have closed a portion of westbound 1500 North to repair a large sinkhole. On it...
Simone Seikaly

Large sinkhole shuts down portion of westbound 1500 North in Lehi

Lehi City officials said the sinkhole formed on 1500 North due to a water leak.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
Why are so many families behind on school lunch debt? It’s complicated