The School Lunch Debt Problem

By Shelby Brunson

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Across the globe, the issue of children’s school lunch debt is skyrocketing. 75 percent of school districts in the country have kids that are in debt to their school because of the child’s lack of compensation for a meal at lunch.


Many people don’t realize this problem, but some have and are working to fix it. Organizations, churches, and even individual people help out their community and try to make sure that the children in it have a meal for lunch everyday.


For example, In Jupiter, Fla., Andrew Levy became aware of this issue and paid off the school lunch debt for more than 400 kids.


It all started with a Facebook post by Angie Vyas-Knight, administer of the “Jupiter Mamas” Facebook group. She highly disapproved of the stats conveying the amount of children that are in debt. Therefore in order to spread awareness, she shared a list of the lunch debt of nine schools, equaling a total amount of $944.35.


Andrew Levy, a real estate agent, came to find this list weeks later, and wanted to do something about it. He was aware that the children in debt would end up either without eating or a simple cheese sandwich. Therefore, Levy paid the debt off for 400 kids.


Then, Levy decided he wanted to go even further, and not just tackle Jupiter, but address the whole of Palm Beach County.


He set up a fundraiser page on facebook to get volunteers. As a result, 200 people volunteered to help spread the kindness and raise money for the kids’ lunch debt. This was just on his facebook page alone.


"I thought that's crazy. Food is something you shouldn't have to think about. Children shouldn't learn hungry," Levy told CNN affiliate WPEC.


The National School Lunch Program is a federally assisted meal program operating in public and nonprofit private schools and residential child care institutions.


In Wilson County, one alternate meal per nine weeks is provided once the child’s negative balance exceeds 10 dollars. After the one meal is provided, the parents must pay the negative balance or send a lunch from home.


The alternate meal includes a sun butter sandwich and white milk for lunch. For Breakfast, Toast and White milk will be given to the child.


Delinquent debt is when there is an overdue unpaid meal charge. These debts will be on the accounting documents until they are collected. In this case, the household debt will be delinquent for 14 days, and then the SFA will request the parents to pay the money owed. Families that fail to pay this debt are unable to participate in the lunch or breakfast program at their child’s school.


How do children qualify for free meals?


Children from families that have an income at or below 130 percent of poverty level are eligible for free meals.


Organizations and charities have realized the issue of child hunger. Like Andrew Levy, they wanted to help out the children in their community.


Some people’s lives are centered around helping their community with hunger and poverty.

No Kid Hungry raises money to give children meals in the summer, make sure they don’t have an empty stomach at the beginning of the school day, and provide food for after school. Their goal is to end child hunger in America.


Kids Against Hunger is another organization that donates money to give children meals everyday.


Maybe one day, all children at schools won’t go into lunch debt, and will have 3 meals a day, even when they go home.


Until that day comes, rest assured that different organizations, charities, and churches will be aiding and helping their community with the issue of hunger as much as possible.

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