Dad talks about his mission to erase school lunch debt
Program seeks to lower more than $500,000 in student lunch debt
An effort is underway to try to diminish the more than $500,000 in school lunch debt students across the tri-county have accrued this past school year. The program’s focus is on lunch debt in from public schools in Dorchester, Charleston and Berkeley counties. This past school year, debt across three school districts has exceeded $524,000, said officials with Lowcountry Blessing Box. Broken down, that amount equates to more than $136,000 in lunch debt in Dorchester District Two, $300,000-plus in Berkeley County schools and in excess of $88,000 in Charleston County School District. According to the program’s website, Berkeley County’s debt alone is $70,000 more than the 2017-18 school year.
The highest debt for one individual student has reached nearly $300, the site reported. District Two Spokesperson Pat Raynor, though she praised the heart of the program, said district officials heard some information the end of last year but nothing more until the a press release this month. Raynor further explained that District Two, like a majority of school districts nationwide, offer a free-and-reduced lunch program that students and their families apply for through the federal government – specifically the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Any student lunch debt remaining at the school year’s end in District Two is handed over to a collection agency, Raynor said.
Individuals over the program point to the recent government shutdown as one of the causes they think has led to the high debt figure. The debts not only burden schools’ budgets but also require administrations to move funds around from other vital areas – including but not limited to curriculum materials, staff development and arts programs – to cover the cost of food to try to continue feeding students. Through April 1, school administrators can also apply online for funds.
Students at a Rhode Island school district who owe money on their lunch accounts will have the sole option of a sunflower butter and jelly sandwich until they are able to pay their balances, the district announced Sunday. Public schools in Rhode Island are mandated by state law to provide lunches to students, but legislation that requires schools to provide hot lunches has not yet been passed. Download the NBC News app for breaking news and politics. Nearly 70 percent of school lunches are served for free or at a reduced price based on family income, according to the state. Some parents who commented on the announcement from Warwick Public Schools said even though they qualify for free lunches, their children still owed money because they had added something to their trays that wasn’t included with the free lunch, like milk.
Other parents noted that the policy of giving out jelly sandwiches to students who owed money would likely leave those children embarrassed and prone to bullying. She added that in order for children – or anyone – to get the nutrients they need, their diets need to be more varied than eating the same sandwich every day. District officials told The Associated Press that they implemented the new policy because the district is owed more than $40,000 on account of outstanding lunch payments. More that 75 percent of schools reported that they were owed money for lunches at the end of the 2016/2017 school year, according to the non-profit School Nutrition Association. 40 percent of schools reported that the amount of students without adequate funds to pay for lunch had increased during the same school year. The association said that schools found they were able to help parents and students by allowing them to pay outstanding funds online, reminding them about low balances and taking advantage of charitable donations.
Philando Castile’s mom donates $8,000 to settle lunch debt that would have prevented students from graduating – Women in the World
The mother of Philando Castile, a school cafeteria worker who was fatally shot by a police officer during a traffic stop in 2016, is helping high school students clear their lunch debts so they can graduate. Valerie Castile delivered a check for $8,000 to Robbinsdale Cooper High School in Minnesota late last month, to pay off the lunch bills of seniors preparing to graduate. The money came from the Philando Castile Relief Foundation, established after his death to provide immediate assistance to parents experiencing loss of a loved one from gun violence, and is carrying on his legacy by helping families pay the negative lunch balances in St. Paul and Minneapolis. Castile told CBS affiliate WCCO that her son had been passionate about the issue of students going into debt in order to eat.
Last year, the charity Philando Feeds the Children, created to honor the late cafeteria worker, raised more than $130,000 and used it to extinguish the lunch debts for every school in the St Paul, Minnesota system, USA Today reports. Philando Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, streamed the 2016 incident in which he died on Facebook Live, later describing to reporters how the events had unfolded. Footage later emerged of Reynolds being comforted by her 4-year-old daughter in the back of a police car, as she struggled to make sense of what had just transpired. Castile’s death captured national attention and sparked protests against police brutality and excessive use of force. The officer who shot Castile, Jeronimo Yanez, was charged with second-degree manslaughter and firearms violations, but acquitted of all charges by a Ramsey County jury.
Video shows 4-year-old promising to protect her mom from police after shooting of Philando Castile. Video of police pointing gun at crying 11-year-old black girl ignites outrage in city.