Nobody wants children to go without eating, but there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

The Dallas School District has more than $11,000 in unpaid student lunches.

The district offers meals to all students, regardless of ability to pay, and since the passage of House Bill 3454, cannot refuse children a meal or provide a less costly “alternative” meal.

We are glad to see students and families taking advantage of the school nutrition program.

But the district can’t get reimbursed for meals if parents aren’t filling out paperwork that may qualify their household.

That needs to be done every year.

The Dallas School District Board of Directors will consider a policy that if a school lunch bill goes unpaid for too long, district officials can hand it over to a collections agency, similar to the way other unpaid bills might be handled.

An option for a parent in arrears is to set up a payment plan. Just regularly paying a small amount can help bring down that bill.

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