School districts: Parents should file claim in school lunch sett - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

School districts: Parents should file claim in school lunch settlement

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

Schools and parents alike are reacting to news announced this week of the class-action lawsuit settlement involving refunds for thousands of Iowa families.

The settlement stems from a class-action lawsuit filed against Martin Brothers Distributing and the Iowa Association for Educational Purchasing. It alleges the two companies worked together to fix prices and reduce competition in school lunch contracts statewide.

The settlement affects private and public schools all over the state.

That includes many Catholic schools within the Archdiocese of Dubuque, which the entire northeast quadrant of the state of Iowa.

Jeff Henderson is superintendent of schools for the archdiocese. He said most of the district's 54 Catholic schools appear on the settlement list for at least one year. That list, broken down by school year, dates back to the 2001-2002 session.

Henderson added this incident will make his schools more watchful of their contracts with food vendors and others.

"I do think it's important to trust, but I also think it's important to trust but verify that you are, indeed, getting the deal you're supposed to be getting and that, occasionally, bidding needs to occur to try to keep things from spinning out of control as best you can," Henderson said, while acknowledging that though Martin Brothers Distributing settled the class-action lawsuit, they did not admit guilt.

The settlement also impacts public schools.

For example, the Dubuque Community School District's central kitchen made the list for five consecutive schools years. District spokesperson Mike Cyze said the district is notifying parents about how they can check their eligibility and submit a claim for a refund.

As part of the settlement, Martin Brothers Distributing will pay $1,925,000 to cover claims. That means

the money is coming from Martin Brothers Distributing and not from schools. That money will be refunded to parents who paid for school lunch at certain schools between Jan. 2000 and Aug. 2014, with $3.50 per student per year.

School districts are not eligible for any part of the refund. That's only available to parents.

A list of those schools and the affected years is HERE: http://www.iowaschoolfoodsettlement.com/school-list.aspx

A list of FAQs on the settlement is HERE: http://www.iowaschoolfoodsettlement.com/frequently-asked-questions.aspx

All claims must be filed by the end of the month.

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