ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — No child should have to go hungry. That’s why a local charter school is trying to help pay off lunch debt for families in need.
“No kid or no family should feel shame because they can’t put a hot lunch up for students at lunch each day,” St. Paul City School Principal Justin Tiarks said.
The charter school, which includes both a primary and middle school campus, gets their meals from the St Paul Public School district. Administrators say they were told in order to follow federal guidelines, they would either need to pay off the outstanding lunch debts or give students with outstanding balances a cold cheese sandwich.
Tiarks says that wasn’t an option.
The school’s director of special services, Beth Sahli, came up with the idea to start a GoFundMe. She said the problem goes much deeper than just St Paul.
“This is a nationwide issue of lunch debt,” Sahli said. “It’s something that grabbed my attention years ago when other districts were struggling with the same thing.”
In the past, Tiarks says private donations have come in from parents and staff to get the balance down once it reached $10,000. Being the season of giving, he hopes the public can help give students the gift of a basic need.
“This is all of our issue and we need to make sure we come together to meet that,” Tiarks said.