By: Amanda Pitts

alpitts@abc6.com

@APittsABC6

CRANSTON, R.I. (WLNE) -- The Cranston School Department is cracking down on unpaid lunch balances. They've hired a collection agency to track down any family owing more than $20.

The district said they've had to write off $95,508 in unpaid lunches since September of 2016. That number is quickly rising, as, since the start of this school year, they've already reached $45,859 in lunch debt.

Cranston Schools have now turned to a debt collector to chase down the cash.

"If someone has a balance of $20 or more, they'll receive a letter from us just saying this is your balance, and you need to pay the balance," said Michael Crudale, Executive Director of Human Resources at the Cranston School Department.

If families don't pay in 60 days, they'll be hearing from the collection agency.

"I don't think that's right. There's a lot of people that don't have the money due," said Quentin Brotherton, a former Cranston East student.

At elementary schools in the city, the price of lunch is $2.50. For middle and high schools, it's $3.25 for a lunch.

Bill Morse, whose granddaughter attends Cranston East, thinks the price is too high for the quality of food.

"I said, 'you eat today? She said no... cause the lunch was terrible.'"

The district said if they get the unpaid money back, it'll be going directly to the food program for things like new equipment, and upgraded food options.

"Every student is fed, every day. That's what we want to continue, and provide that service to the students on a daily basis," said Crudale.

The debt collecting agency will start sending letters on January 2nd.

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