Lunches for Lakeville pays off student lunch debt

Just like many families in school districts across the nation, families in the Lakeville Area Public Schools district struggle to pay for school lunch. But a donation campaign spreading through social media aims to change all that by paying for lunch balances overdue by $10 or more. 

alt="Students at Christina Huddleston Elementary were excited about the donations."

Students at Christina Huddleston Elementary were excited about the donations.

Lunches for Lakeville was started by Craig Pratt, a parent in the district, who wanted to help struggling families.

“I knew there was a need — this stuff just happens. I can’t imagine a kid trying to learn on an empty stomach,” said Pratt. “It was an easy problem to solve. I started a YouCaring site, networked, went door-to-door in downtown Lakeville and populated social media with the donation site.”

Pratt was right about there being a need in the district. Around 155 accounts are overdue, leaving a total outstanding balance of nearly $7,500, said Gayle Smalley-Rader, student nutrition supervisor.

Lunches for Lakeville, which is made up of donations from local individuals as well as those living out-of-state, has garnered more than 600 shares with nearly 70 donors (and increasing every day). The goal of the campaign is to reach $15,000, Pratt said. In just five days it already reached $5,000.

Alt="Lake Marion Elementary staff gathered as Craig Pratt, parent in the district, handed off a $2,000 check for student lunch debt."

Lake Marion Elementary staff gathered as Craig Pratt, parent in the district, handed off a $2,000 check for student lunch debt.

“It’s pretty cool to see our school communities as well as outside communities supporting kids to have lunch,” said Judy Keliher, school board director.

The first set of donations (totaling $3,900) were given to Christina Huddleston Elementary, Lake Marion Elementary, Kenwood Trail Middle School and McGuire Middle School Thursday and Friday. Pratt made sure the deficits of each of the schools were covered as well as a little extra for future needs.

“Our lunch ladies were really excited — somebody cares, they said,” Smalley-Rader said.

As donations keep coming in, they will continue to be allocated appropriately to schools through the district. Anyone interested in contributing may visit the website.

“These donations will help us a lot. We’ve been carrying a deficit in our lunches. If the district were to pay the deficit, we would be using general fund monies. Now the general fund can stay in the classrooms,” Keliher said.

For anyone struggling to pay for school lunch, assistance may be available. Visit the district website to learn more about free and reduced price meals.

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