Local girl works to zero out student lunch debts

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FRUITA, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT)-- For some students in Mesa County School District 51, getting a good meal isn't always easy. Some local residents wanted to do something about that.

Student lunch debt for District 51 reaches into thousands of dollars. People in the community want to help.

Kristin Koper, a mom, said her daughter, Delanie, came home from school on Friday and told her about a boy in her class who wasn't always guaranteed a breakfast. Delanie felt bad when Koper brought her a snack, and the boy was still hungry.

"He's hungry because he doesn't eat breakfast," Delanie said.

The issue affects more than just the boy in class. Dan Sharp, the director of nutrition services at District 51 said about 50 percent of the students in the district are on free or reduced lunches.

Some families can't pay for lunches period or hover just above the free or reduced line.

"They've got other bills," Sharp said. "It's tough, and they might not qualify for free or reduced meals."

So, Delanie and her mom decided to do something about it. They posted on the Western Slope Classified Ads Facebook page, asking for the community to come together and reduce or even zero out the school lunch debt.

"It started out with Shelledy, and now it's moved to all of schools in D-51, and now possibly Garfield county," Koper said.

They were by no means the only ones who wanted to give. Lots of likes, comments and willingness to share poured in--some came all the way from Rifle.

"It helps the parents relax a bit and maybe not focus so much on feeding their children," Koper said.

Some gave money directly to Delanie and her mom.

"We call them angels. That want to help out with the families that maybe might not be able to pay those account balances and they're welcome to do that," Sharp said. "We get that every year. We appreciate that."

While the District's entire lunch debt is about $150,000, their focus is really on about $20,000 of that for people who are in need. They expect most of that debt to be paid off after the holidays.

"That's pretty normal that we see a spike, or it peaks, this time of year, and then it starts to decrease as we get into January, February, March," Sharp said.

Nearly all of the lunch debt the district accrues over the span of a school career is paid off. Last year, the District paid off $3,000 in unpaid lunch debts.

If you'd like to donate, you can contact the District's Nutritional Office through the link at the side of the article, or donations can be mailed or delivered to:

Nutrition Services
2280 East Main Street
Grand Junction, CO 81501



 
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