school children backpacks
© / / Global Look Press
The Wyoming Valley West School District in Pennsylvania warned parents that their children could be taken from them and placed in foster care if they fail to pay their outstanding lunch debt.

The letter, sent to about 1,000 parents with unpaid lunch bills, warned that failure to pay for their children's food could lead to dependency hearings and the removal of their children from their home. The bills reportedly range from $75 to $450, and total over $20,000.

"You can be sent to dependency court for neglecting your child's right to food. The result may be your child being taken from your home and placed in foster care," the letter read.

Unsurprisingly, the correspondence sparked a barrage of complaints from parents. Luzerne County child welfare authorities said the alarming claim was false and harmed those most vulnerable.

Responding to the outcry, the school district said the stern letter was simply a desperate attempt at collecting fees they are owed. Wyoming Valley West's lawyer, Charles Coslett, said he did not consider the letters threatening and told WYOU-TV that it's "shameful" some parents don't want to contribute towards feeding their own kids.

School officials later said that they will send out a less severe follow-up letter to parents next week.