The Hoboken school lunch debacle

3/8/2010:

What’s up with the Hoboken School Lunches?

Since I don’t have any kids here in the Hoboken school system, it’s not always easy to be on top of each and every conundrum that takes place on a daily basis.

But apparently – something has gone awry with the school lunch debit card system (what ever happened to just paying cash for lunch? God, it’s been so long…), and now parents are getting bills for over-debiting their child’s account.

One parent (and Hoboken Realtor) writes about it on a blog – and another 411 reader and parent sent this photo in, saying:

“The Hoboken board of Ed sent home “bills” with students on Tuesday of last week which gave a name to make the checks payable to and a contact number, and that’s it. On Wednesday, they began refusing to feed the children who had received these notes, but failed to inform parents of these intentions. It took three days, and 46 phone calls to actually speak to someone, and learn that my sons account had a glitch, and the bill was being voided. What? How about all the other parents who haven’t gotten through yet? Needless to say, they were unable (unwilling?) to tell me what I owed the public school system money for, but quick to say after three days of denying him lunch, please disregard. My son did overhear something from teachers about Wallace owing the state 40 grand, but I don’t know the validity of that.”

Hoboken411 reached out to several Board of Education members, and will update the story (or comments) accordingly with their response.

26 Responses

  1. debra says:

    I’ve been trying to get a balance for my granddaughter for over a week. Still haven’t heard anything. Will call the Board if I don’t hear from someone.

  2. HOB424 says:

    When the district ran it themselves, it was simpler. However, there are those that just don’t pay bills and this company wants to get paid. But, when this letter went out, they should have given people a week to dispute bills that were incorrect. They put this letter out on Thursday, Friday school was closed and it takes effect Monday. they really should have phone coverage and also there needs to be someone available in the office that can deal with this. They have a right to get paid for what they do, but this is a service oriented business and they need to improve the customer service being provided to their customers.

  3. ShhhDontTell says:

    It’s easy.

    Put some $ in your kids’ account, and when they give their code number at the register, Chartwell will subtract the price of the meal. If you don’t have a balance, your kid will get a sandwich.

    What’s so bad about a sandwich? The kid will not starve.

    • debra says:

      How would you like to eat a cheese sandwich every day until the balance gets caught up?????

      I gave my granddaughter money to put into her “account” to pay for her lunch, but they applied it to the balance owed. So she now has a “0” balance. The parents should have had more notice of this change. We are more than willing to pay for lunches; however, like HOB424 stated the notices were given out on Thursday advising of the change coming on the 1st, school was closed that Friday and the 1st was on Monday. No time to dispute and/or pay the balance.

      In response to ShhhDontTell who said:

      It’s easy.

      Put some $ in your kids’ account, and when they give their code number at the register, Chartwell will subtract the price of the meal. If you don’t have a balance, your kid will get a sandwich.

      What’s so bad about a sandwich? The kid will not starve.

      • ShhhDontTell says:

        How about packing a lunch? This can save money, which can help pay that bill off.

        I hear people being shocked at how much money was owed at the end of last school year. Doesn’t seem fair to just decide to not pay. And as so many of us know, if you let it go, it piles up. Pay it on time to avoid this.

        In response to debra who said:

        How would you like to eat a cheese sandwich every day until the balance gets caught up?????

        I gave my granddaughter money to put into her “account” to pay for her lunch, but they applied it to the balance owed. So she now has a “0” balance. The parents should have had more notice of this change. We are more than willing to pay for lunches; however, like HOB424 stated the notices were given out on Thursday advising of the change coming on the 1st, school was closed that Friday and the 1st was on Monday. No time to dispute and/or pay the balance.

      • debra says:

        We would pay on time if the bills were given on time. Trust me there were times bills didn’t go out for three to four months.

        In response to ShhhDontTell who said:

        How about packing a lunch? This can save money, which can help pay that bill off.

        I hear people being shocked at how much money was owed at the end of last school year. Doesn’t seem fair to just decide to not pay. And as so many of us know, if you let it go, it piles up. Pay it on time to avoid this.

      • HOB424 says:

        but, they stopped billing awhile ago. That’s why the lunch form, has space to fill out at the bottom to say which days you want your child to get lunch and there is a space to write the amount of money you are putting in, then send give it to the child’s teacher to turn in.

        In response to debra who said:

        We would pay on time if the bills were given on time. Trust me there were times bills didn’t go out for three to four months.

      • escaped68 says:

        What’s wrong with peanut butter and jelly,millions of pb&j sandwiches are eaten everyday.

        In response to debra who said:

        How would you like to eat a cheese sandwich every day until the balance gets caught up?????

        I gave my granddaughter money to put into her “account” to pay for her lunch, but they applied it to the balance owed. So she now has a “0” balance. The parents should have had more notice of this change. We are more than willing to pay for lunches; however, like HOB424 stated the notices were given out on Thursday advising of the change coming on the 1st, school was closed that Friday and the 1st was on Monday. No time to dispute and/or pay the balance.

    • princesstessy says:

      Well these must be the words of a lunchlady. As such, you should know that one slice of cheese in between a super thick roll, no Mayo, no juice no milk, is not a meal. These are children and not prisoners. they are being singled out because for whatever circumstances, their parents did not pay the account. After “squaring away” (oR so I thought) my kids account on Friday, he still got crap today! My child had to ignore them and go get the hot meal to which he was entitled, while being told “go get a sandwich”. THESE ARE KIDS!!!!!Debra, you ever get a call back?

      In response to ShhhDontTell who said:

      It’s easy.

      Put some $ in your kids’ account, and when they give their code number at the register, Chartwell will subtract the price of the meal. If you don’t have a balance, your kid will get a sandwich.

      What’s so bad about a sandwich? The kid will not starve.

      • debra says:

        Sorry I’m just getting back on line. Never got a call back, but kept calling there. I finally got throught and was told the money I put into her account went to what was owed, which I don’t think was fair since I wanted to make sure she had a decent lunch while her parents work out what they said was owed.

        In response to princesstessy who said:

        Well these must be the words of a lunchlady. As such, you should know that one slice of cheese in between a super thick roll, no Mayo, no juice no milk, is not a meal. These are children and not prisoners. they are being singled out because for whatever circumstances, their parents did not pay the account. After “squaring away” (oR so I thought) my kids account on Friday, he still got crap today! My child had to ignore them and go get the hot meal to which he was entitled, while being told “go get a sandwich”. THESE ARE KIDS!!!!!Debra, you ever get a call back?

  4. HOB424 says:

    Can’t have pb&j in the schools here. As well as many other districts and even private schools have this policy in place because of life threatening allergies and that’s a separate discussion.

    Every month the new menu is sent home, with a form at the bottom to fill out how many lunches your kid will have that month and then you send in the appropriate amount. This is the way it has been done for a while, so don’t know why people are waiting for bills and then surprised when they get them. Didn’t they ever say, gee, I haven’t paid for lunch in a while?

  5. YipYap says:

    escaped68- Peanut Butter has been banned for a few decades now from many schools. Although nobody knows how many kiddies actually died from Anaphylaxis caused by Peanut Butter, it might be one kiddie a year in the USA according to the CDC.

    In this town if you aren’t a Peanut Correct Parent you could get run out of the playground by an angry mob of parents.

    Hoboken is mentioned here back in 2006. No Peanut Butter for YOU little Jayden and little Spencer!

    http://www.forbes.com/global/2006/0918/038.html

    • bmacqueens says:

      Nut allergies are for real. It’s only since the internet tied us together with easy communications outside the control of the media that the word finally spread through the public mind. I had a buddy who almost died at our senior prom from one bite of the rice pilaf. That was back in 1989. Have encountered plenty of folks since then with serious allergies, including one at my building’s holiday party about a year ago – yup, off to the hospital, most likely as a result of the (peanut) oil in which one of the appetizers was fried.

      In response to YipYap who said:

      escaped68- Peanut Butter has been banned for a few decades now from many schools. Although nobody knows how many kiddies actually died from Anaphylaxis caused by Peanut Butter, it might be one kiddie a year in the USA according to the CDC.

      In this town if you aren’t a Peanut Correct Parent you could get run out of the playground by an angry mob of parents.

      Hoboken is mentioned here back in 2006. No Peanut Butter for YOU little Jayden and little Spencer!

      http://www.forbes.com/global/2006/0918/038.html

  6. princesstessy says:

    It would be great to have a well documented system in place, but we owed NOTHING… still don’t, and even though they say via phone “all clear” the kids are the ones being embarrassed on the lunch line. its just ridiculous they way its being handled! Try to collect, but not at a child’s expense.

    • ShhhDontTell says:

      The child doesn’t have to go near the line if you send him/her in with a packed lunch.

      Or, surprise your child with a slice of pizza. (If you’re not at work)

      Easier to pay down your bill if you’re not adding to it every day.

      In response to princesstessy who said:

      It would be great to have a well documented system in place, but we owed NOTHING… still don’t, and even though they say via phone “all clear” the kids are the ones being embarrassed on the lunch line. its just ridiculous they way its being handled! Try to collect, but not at a child’s expense.

      • princesstessy says:

        And it would be easier to “pay down that bill” if the records were accurate, or if they actually picked up or returned phone calls. But apparently the only thing that matters to them is a power play…not actually resovlving invoices.

        In response to ShhhDontTell who said:

        The child doesn’t have to go near the line if you send him/her in with a packed lunch.

        Or, surprise your child with a slice of pizza. (If you’re not at work)

        Easier to pay down your bill if you’re not adding to it every day.

  7. Hoboken_South says:

    I have no remorse for ¾ of these kids. Give me a break. I teach in the district and 99% of these kids have cell phones, I Pods, side-kicks, Air Jordan’s, and fitted hats that cost $35.00 a pop. Yeah.
    You have no money to pay your bill for school lunch but you have fitted hats. Give me a break. There are a lot of get over parents.
    Call it what it is. People trying to beat the system. Take the cheese sandwich and blast your I Pod son!

    • midtownauthentic says:

      Just curious here but you are a teacher and if you have no remorse for 3/4 of the kids which equates to 75% and you mention 99% of the kids have phones, electronic devices and fitted hats then shouldn’t you have 99/100 worth of no remorse?

      In response to Hoboken_South who said:

      I have no remorse for ¾ of these kids. Give me a break. I teach in the district and 99% of these kids have cell phones, I Pods, side-kicks, Air Jordan’s, and fitted hats that cost $35.00 a pop. Yeah.
      You have no money to pay your bill for school lunch but you have fitted hats. Give me a break. There are a lot of get over parents.
      Call it what it is. People trying to beat the system. Take the cheese sandwich and blast your I Pod son!

      • Hoboken_South says:

        That was witty. Good Job.

        In response to midtownauthentic who said:

        Just curious here but you are a teacher and if you have no remorse for 3/4 of the kids which equates to 75% and you mention 99% of the kids have phones, electronic devices and fitted hats then shouldn’t you have 99/100 worth of no remorse?

    • mooshu says:

      I’m going to overlook the number you’ve calculated and proposed here and simply agree with the remainder of your post. 100% right!

      I don’t agree with parents being charged a second time for school lunch, though.

      In response to Hoboken_South who said:

      I have no remorse for ¾ of these kids. Give me a break. I teach in the district and 99% of these kids have cell phones, I Pods, side-kicks, Air Jordan’s, and fitted hats that cost $35.00 a pop. Yeah.
      You have no money to pay your bill for school lunch but you have fitted hats. Give me a break. There are a lot of get over parents.
      Call it what it is. People trying to beat the system. Take the cheese sandwich and blast your I Pod son!

  8. krewedetat says:

    The kids don’t get the bills. The parents do. And if the company running the food program is inefficient or corrupt, blaming the parents is a convenient thing to do.

  9. BarbaraR56 says:

    Last year spoke to a parent of one of the public school children. He said he gave his son cash every week to pay for lunch. He got a notice that he owed an huge amount of money. His son was about 8 yrs. old unless he was having a party or being bullied he quipped there was no reason that he should have gotten this bill. After some investigation, it was found that a former employee allegedly was seen on security camera taking the cash that was supposed to be deposited. Again I say allegedly because this is hearsay. Apparently the employee was fired and is awaiting trial. I think it was in the Jersey Journal one of my neighbors said. Could this be the reason for the confusion?

    • ShhhDontTell says:

      Anyone remember, back in the day, getting that couple of bucks for the collection in church. Where’d it ultimately go? A bag of penny candy, or the church collection? Maybe half here, half there?

      Ask this 8 year old if he ever stood on the chocolate chip cookie line. That’s where the money may have gone. Really. Ask your kids.

      In response to BarbaraR56 who said:

      Last year spoke to a parent of one of the public school children. He said he gave his son cash every week to pay for lunch. He got a notice that he owed an huge amount of money. His son was about 8 yrs. old unless he was having a party or being bullied he quipped there was no reason that he should have gotten this bill. After some investigation, it was found that a former employee allegedly was seen on security camera taking the cash that was supposed to be deposited. Again I say allegedly because this is hearsay. Apparently the employee was fired and is awaiting trial. I think it was in the Jersey Journal one of my neighbors said. Could this be the reason for the confusion?

  10. escaped68 says:

    The anti peanutbutter lobby has managed to got pb banned but they are okay with processed food product, this product is passed off as cheese in school lunches. Bring back twinkies,devil dogs and wash it all down with yoo hoo.It worked well for my generation we’re all normal,I think.

    • mooshu says:

      “The anti peanutbutter lobby has managed to got pb banned but they are okay with processed food product, this product is passed off as cheese in school lunches.”

      An excellent point!

      How come other schools around the country enjoy organic or just plain fresh and natural foods for lunch, and, um, we don’t? Just makes me wonder, because it seems that we can afford assorted garbage, you know?

      In response to escaped68 who said:

      The anti peanutbutter lobby has managed to got pb banned but they are okay with processed food product, this product is passed off as cheese in school lunches. Bring back twinkies,devil dogs and wash it all down with yoo hoo.It worked well for my generation we’re all normal,I think.

  11. midtownauthentic says:

    Just give all the kids an Amex card and build a Wolfgang Puck in the school and everyone will be happy and healthy

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