The Franklin Special School District community helped pay off more than $9,700 in student lunch debt in less than two months this year through a campaign started by the FSSD Child Nutrition Department called “Take a Bite Out of School Lunch Debt.”
“We thought, during COVID and so many people losing jobs and things, it would be nice with our families to come back with a zero balance and not a negative balance,” said Marne Price, the child nutrition department bookkeeper.
The department started the campaign in April, allowing community members to donate to the cause, and by the end of May, about 75 donors had completely eliminated the debt of hundreds of families. Price said this will help families who are still dealing with the effects of the current pandemic start fresh in the new school year.
“The ripple effects of COVID are not going to be gone when we start back to school,” she said. “There are a lot of people that lost their jobs and are in a different financial situation than they were when we left in March, so we were just trying to help families that way.”
She said some former teachers and FSSD employees donated to the cause as well as families of eighth-graders who were moving onto a WCS high school and had a positive meal balance.
“We were very appreciative for people, during a hard time for everyone, to think about others,” she said.
Price added that, if a family graduates from the district with a negative balance, and FSSD can’t collect money from them, the district absorbs that cost, so the donations from the community not only helped FSSD families but the district as well.