By Bob Weaver

Thirteen civil suits have been issued by Calhoun Schools against parents or guardians for non-payment of school meals.

The suits have been filed in Calhoun Magistrate Court.

The delinquent payments for student meals range from $58 to $1000, according to magistrate court records.

The parents or guardians, if judgment is granted, will be required to pay an additional $75-$85 in court costs.

The school system has reportedly hired an outside agency to manage the collecting of meal fees.

Calhoun Schools has had a high of 70% of students eligible for free or reduced lunch fees, but more recent statistics indicate that percentage has dropped.

Apparently, those being sued are not among that group, or have failed to complete an application for free or reduced fees.

When Randolph County schools issued suits for non-paid meals, students affected got a peanut butter sandwich, an apple and a carton of milk.

Calhoun school administration declined to respond to a request to clarify the procedure and action they are taking, or to confirm if more suits are forthcoming.

Clay and Gilmer County schools joined a 2011 pilot program with five other counties to provide free breakfast and lunch to school children regardless of family income, directed toward providing better nutrition.

Officials said they hope to increase the numbers of students who eat school meals not only by offering them free of charge, but also by serving breakfast a little later in the day.

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