Taking extreme measures to pay off student lunch debt
Charity paying off thousands in Prince William Co. school lunch debt
A local charity is working to let kids go back to school after the winter break free of lunch debt in Prince William County, Virginia. A local charity is working to let kids go back to school after the winter break free of lunch debt. Lunch debt – debt owed to schools from kids whose parents can’t pay for their lunches – is high in Prince William County, Virginia. Adelle Settle told WTOP, “Right now in Prince William County there’s $300,000 in school lunch debt.” Settle is a mother and said the idea of children not being able to afford lunch at school is heartbreaking, especially when she considers the “Lunch shaming” that goes on at some schools where kids whose parents owe lunch money get a different lunch – a glaring symbol to everyone else in the lunchroom. That’s why she formed the nonprofit Settle the Debt, to raise money to pay off some of that debt. “We’ve already raised somewhere around $42,000, and that $42,000 has gone toward paying off a lunch debt of over 20 elementary schools in Prince William County and that’s paid off to zero,” she said. “All those kids are going to go back to school after winter break with no lunch debt.” “Our hope is to raise another $6,000 so that we can have three more elementary schools paid off by the end of winter break,” she said. The group goes to the school, asks to learn the total lunch debt, then pays the bill. They mostly work anonymously, as they don’t want to make families feel bad. But occasionally, someone whose child’s lunch debt has been paid off finds them. “One of our board members got an email from a teacher who was struggling and hadn’t been able to pay off her child’s balance at her public school,” said Settle.
Lunch debt: A Pennsylvania school district threatened parents that children could be put in foster care over lunch debt. Now, it’s denying an offer from La Colombe Coffee CEO Todd Carmichael to pay it off.
A Pennsylvania school district was criticized last week after sending threatening letters to parents over their children’s school lunch debt. Todd Carmichael, co-founder and CEO of Philadelphia-based La Colombe Coffee, offered to give Wyoming Valley West School District $22,000 to cover the bills that led to the warning letter, Carmichael spokesperson Aren Platt told CBS News on Tuesday. According to Platt, school board president Joseph Mazur rejected the offer during a phone conversation Monday. According to a letter obtained by CBS Scranton affiliate WYOU-TV, parents were told to pay the balance owed for their child’s lunches or risk being reported to Luzerne County dependency court. “Your child has been sent to school every day without money and without breakfast and/or lunch,” the letter said. The letter goes on to say that their child could be at risk of being placed in foster care if the parents go to court. “I know what it means to feel shame for not being able to afford food.” He said that his offer still stands if the school district wants to reconsider. Luzerne County officials said they absolutely would not remove children from their homes over unpaid lunch bills, WYOU-TV reports. The county is asking the school district to retract the letter. School lunch debts are affecting families across the country and have recently gained national attention. In May, after a Rhode Island school district reversed its decision to start serving cold sandwiches instead of hot lunches to students whose families owe lunch money, Chobani CEO Hamdi Ulukaya offered to pay off their debts. In June, a 9-year-old boy in Napa, California, used his allowance to pay off classmates’ school lunch debts.
Vancouver second grader pays off school lunch debt
There are 385 students enrolled at Franklin Elementary in Vancouver, but it only took one student to forgive the lunch debt of his classmates. Keoni Ching is only 8 years old and in the second grade. For the last four years, Franklin Elementary has hosted “Kindness Week.” It was started by school counselor Lisa Dimurro. “I really wanted our kids to spread a message of kindness, I think it’s really important,” Dimurro said. His parents read a story about how 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman had paid off the lunch debt at two schools. “It’s been a great experience. He’s one of those kids that’s really introspective and is really quiet and then gets really verbal.” The $4,015 that Keoni raised will pay off the $503 debt at Franklin Elementary and six other schools will get a $500 check each. The rest will remain at Franklin Elementary for future debts incurred. School lunch debt started adding up when Oregon and Washington both passed bills to stop a practice referred to as “Lunch shaming.” Schools can no longer give students a separate meal not provided to those paying for a school lunch. Schools in Oregon and Washington are hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt because of unpaid school lunches. Portland Public Schools and Gresham-Barlow School District didn’t get back to us. “We do a lot to make sure that families get connected to the resources in the community that we have available. We end up in a situation where we want to make sure that we’re creating an environment where kids feel comfortable coming to school. They’re not embarrassed when they’re eating and they have a real successful day here.” Howard said.