Man challenges community to 'Grab the Tab' for student lunch debt
Pennsylvania school district tells parents to pay their lunch debt, or their kids will go into foster care
The Wyoming Valley West School District in Pennsylvania sent out hundreds of letters this week telling parents who had lunch debt to pay or their children could go into foster care. Wyoming Valley’s Cafeteria Purchase Charging and Insufficient Funds Policy says nothing about parents potentially going to court or giving up their children. Joseph Muth, the director of federal programs for the school district, was identified by WNEP as the man who wrote the letter. Muth also told the affiliate the school district was considering serving students with delinquent accounts peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Because the school division brought up foster care, the incident indirectly brought the Luzerne County Children and Youth Services into the controversy.
Joanne Van Saun, who runs the local agency, told CNN on Saturday she feels her agency was weaponized to threaten families. Van Saun said the district’s letter made her staff’s job harder because people are usually already angry when they have to deal with her agency. A school district in Rhode Island caused an uproar in May when it announced that any students with unpaid balances on their lunch accounts would receive a sunflower seed butter and jelly sandwich until their balance was paid. The employee told CNN she knew the student would pay the $8 tab. In Minnesota, one high school attempted to prevent students from attending the graduation ceremony if they had lunch debt.
Families’ inability to pay for school lunches is becoming an increasing problem. Of the school districts with unpaid student meal debt, 40.2% said the number of students without adequate funds increased last school year, according to the School Nutrition Association.
20,000 meals: The First Coast’s school lunch debt problem
That’s how many went unpaid for during the 2018 to 2019 school year on the First Coast. For many of the school districts, it’s exemplary of a larger problem of food insecurity. The combined total of school lunch debt accumulated on the First Coast for the 2018 to 2019 school year is $43,805, with the highest amount of lunch debt belonging to Clay County Schools at $32,259. For Clay, that’s roughly 14,337 regularly priced school lunches. Nassau County comes in second with $7,257 in outstanding debt and then followed by St.
Johns County Schools at $4,289. Many schools tell First Coast News that bad debt for their district must be written off as an operating loss and ultimately restored using non-Federal funds. No student on the First Coast – regardless of the district – will be denied a school meal because of a negative balance. The kinds of meals that the students with debt receive vary from county to county. Nassau County serves all students the same meal regardless of accumulated debt.
Many of the counties in our area such as Bradford, Putnam and Baker County schools qualify for the Community Eligibility Provision, which is a free meal service option for school districts in low-income areas. Even with many of those schools having little-to-no school lunch debt, there’s still a larger problem at play. Engine 15 and First Coast Brews are brewing up a beer that will help alleviate the debt that schools in our area have racked up as a result of students not being able to pay for their meals.
TwinStar Community Foundation Pays Off $59,000 of School Lunch Debt
Elementary schools in Lewis, Grays Harbor and Thurston Counties receive awards. Olympia – The TwinStar Community Foundation believes that well-fed kids create well-fed minds. The Foundation identified accumulated school lunch debts incurred at elementary schools and provided funds to eliminate or reduce the debt for the school year ending this week. More than 60 different elementary schools and their school districts were awarded funds to help eliminate the growing school lunch debt problem. The TwinStar Community Foundation paid all the school lunch debt in our service area for elementary schools in Lewis and Grays Harbor Counties and half the school lunch debt in Thurston County.
In 2018, the Foundation paid off school lunch debt in Thurston County. The increase in awards for 2019 more than doubled the amount of funds directed at eliminating elementary school lunch debt. The TwinStar Community Foundation was formed to affect our communities in substantial and innovative ways. We are pleased to be able to provide security for elementary school kids while helping our school district partner’s deal with an unpredictable expense.
Man raises nearly $8K to pay off high school lunch debt for students
One man stepped up to help students in his community and raised more than $7,500 to pay off school lunch debt for high school students. Dustin Wright created a fundraiser on Facebook with the initial goal of collecting $1,000 towards the negative lunch account balances at Amherst County High School. According to ABC News Lynchburg affiliate WSET, Wright contacted the high school and learned there was a balance of more than $4,000 in negative accounts. Since the campaign began on Wednesday, Wright surpassed his initial goal and closed the campaign out once it reached $7,676. Wright shared the payment details about how the donations were being processed to avoid fees and to be transparent in a post on Facebook.
He also said he received cash donations and personal checks, which he added into a Navy Federal bank account and transferred the value into the fundraiser.