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School districts struggle with thousands of dollars in lunch debt

A Pennsylvania school district is warning that children could end up in foster care if their parents do not pay overdue school lunch bills.
A Pennsylvania school district is warning that children could end up in foster care if their parents do not pay overdue school lunch bills.
Published: Feb. 13, 2020 at 6:43 PM EST
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There are several food assistant programs across the state that are in place to help students who might go hungry otherwise.

Although many are proving successful, school districts in Mid-Michigan are still facing other problems.

Multiple school districts in Mid-Michigan told News 10 that they have policies in place where students without lunch or who can't afford one, will not go without food. But this comes as a literal cost, as many school districts in the area are finding themselves thousands of dollars in debt for school lunches.

"We do allow students to eat even if they are negative in their fund balance," said Brian Latty, the Charlotte Food Service director.

Charlotte Food Services say their school lunch debt for the whole district is nearly $8,000.

"We do have a free and reduced program, but there is many families that don't qualify for the free and reduced (lunch). but they still need assistance so they are struggling to make payments," said Latty.

To help feed students, Charlotte High School recently opened its very own food pantry for students to use in and outside of school.

"90 times or so we have had students come in here and get food to go home with to fill their bellies," said Sean Barker, an organizer for the 'Bird Feeder'

But despite the growth of the pantry, the student lunch debt remains high. This goes for the Grand Ledge School District as well, which has inspired parents to help pitch in.

"I don't have the extra money to do this, but if I could use my Perfectly Posh business and donate my commission then I could possibly make something like this happen," said Andrea Zielinski, a Wacoutsa Elementary parent.

In just one month Zielinski raised $1,700, paying off Wacousta elementary's debt.

"We did a huge thing for Grand Ledge School District," said Zielinski.

But the giving continues, as Zielinski inspired parents at Beagle Elementary to try to eliminate the whole school lunch debt.

"It was started to be raised 36 hours ago and we have already raised $1,400 on Facebook," said Kristy Welch, a Beagle parent. "So Wacousta has been paid for, Beagle has been paid for, and we have a thousand dollars extra, so hopefully, we can do more and hopefully we can take care of the rest of the debt."

After the recent donations, the Grand Ledge school lunch debt still remains around $5,000.

To donate to the Charlotte Food pantry, call 517-541-5100.

To donate to Grand Ledge School lunch funds,

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