Updated: December 19, 2019 05:43 PM
Created: December 19, 2019 04:53 PM
(ABC 6 News) - A Rochester mom launched an online fundraiser this week to raise money for students whose lunch accounts have fallen into the negative.
She hopes people will feel the spirit of the holidays, and give.
As a mom of three, Liz Boldon knows all too well that around the holidays, every penny counts.
“One of those financial obligations being their student’s lunch debt, and I just thought we can do something about that,” she said.
On Monday, she started a fundraiser to wipe out the current lunch debt for students in Rochester Public Schools.
“I was a little surprised honestly of the amount, of the $83,000. That’s a big number, but that’s a big burden for families in Rochester,” Boldon said.
“It’s large, yes. It’s probably not the highest number that we’ve seen in recent years, but if you look at the four months of school, yes it’s probably high in that perspective,” said Sherri Knutson, the district’s school nutrition services coordinator.
Knutson’s worked in the district for two decades, and she’s seen that number and the number of students applying for free and reduced lunches grow.
“Almost every year we see there’s somewhat of a small or moderate increase, and I think basically this year it’s pretty much holding its own,” she said.
The $83,000 is both from this school year and accrued from years past.
Boldon says a good portion of that debt is from kids who are now getting free or reduced lunches.
“And you might ask, how do kids that are getting free lunches accrue lunch debt? And that is from a time before they completed their application for free lunches, so the debt they accrued before that,” Boldon said.
In some cases, the district absorbs that debt.
While RPS doesn’t punish kids for having negative balances, Boldon knows firsthand it’s still stressful for parents and students.
“I’ve been there, I’ve been that mom, I know what it’s like, so there were definitely times my daughter received a cheese sandwich because her account was negative, and so that’s a bad experience. Thankfully it’s not that way anymore in Rochester,” Boldon said.
“We made a decision years ago that we were not going to make any substitutes or alternatives in our meal selection for students that don’t have the ability to pay,” Knutson said.
For community members who do have the ability to pay, Boldon said it’s the perfect time of the year to step up.
“Those of us who are privileged enough to donate and do things like this sort of have a responsibility to do so,” Boldon said.
You find the link to donate by clicking here.
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