Hundreds of parents are threatened with losing custody of their children over school lunch debt.

The letter was mailed to about a thousand parents in the Wyoming Valley West School District in northeastern Pennsylvania.

It informs them the district can take them to dependency court where they could risk losing their children to foster care under the claim those parents are not providing food for their children.

The school district's attorney rebuffs concerns the letter is threatening, calling it just one option and an effective one.

"Hopefully that gets their attention and it certainly did didn't it?," said Charles Coslett, school district solicitor. "I mean if you think about it you're here this morning because some parent's crying foul over he or she doesn't want to pay a debt. A debt attributed to feeding their kids. How shameful!"

School board members, meanwhile, are not happy with the move.

"When I first read the letter the top of my head almost came off," said David Usavage, school board vice president. "I think there were other avenues that we could have proceeded without making it look like to be perfectly candid and Charlie and Joe can disagree. But everything in that letter--the only thing in that letter that was missing was when are we going to put them in cages and send them to Mexico. And, and I was a little concerned with that. I really was. That was harsh. I thought it was harsh - the letter."

"It might be a bit too heavy for some people and interpreted," said Joseph Muth, the school district's director of federal programs. "To the point the school district wants to take their kids away from them, no one wants to take their kids away from them or to advocate that, but we were not getting a response."