HIGH POINT, N.C. — An anonymous donor gave $10,500 to pay off all the school lunch debt in High Point. A Guilford County Schools (GCS) spokesperson said school board members made the announcement Tuesday night.
The school district had a total $44,112 in lunch debt for the 2018-2019 year before the donation was made, according to Guilford County Schools.
GCS says if the debt isn't paid off by the end of the school year, it's left to the school district to work it into budget and pay it off. The debt doesn't roll over into the new school year.
Back in 2012, the School Board approved a policy which allowed elementary and middle school students to owe a total of five breakfasts and five lunches of their choice before being defaulted to a different meal from the lunch line. Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools students owed $25,500 this past school year. The district says debt like this can be avoided if parents apply early for the free and reduced lunch program.
"Filling out an application early each year can save a household and the school system a large amount of money," the district shared. In Alamance County, the school lunch debt is high at about $56,146.63.
"All schools have to pay the negative lunch balance by the end of that school year," said Pamela Bailey, Executive Director of School Nutrition for Alamance-Burlington Schools. "This does take money away from the individual schools budget, it would be nice if Congress made breakfast and lunch meal benefits free in all states."
Earlier this summer in Lexington, two girls set up a lemonade stand to help eliminate school lunch debt. In Charlotte, former Carolina Panthers player Thomas Davis helped eliminate the school lunch debt with some donations.
In 2018, Bella's Blessings came about. it's a social media fundraiser started by Bella Marshall, a student at Oak Ridge Elementary, to help kids who may not be able to afford lunch and field trips through a GoFundMe page and craft sale.