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December 23, 2019

Local woman gives $10,000 to cover school lunch debts

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A Warrenton woman has donated $10,000 to pay off the lunch debts of Fauquier County Public Schools students in need.

Ann Anderson’s gift eliminated $8,000 in debt and provided another $2,000 to help “families who did not qualify for reduced lunch (prices) but merit financial help,” school system spokeswoman Tara Helkowski said.

Ms. Anderson in the past has supported the Fauquier Excellence in Education Foundation, the recipient of the recent donation.

“When Fauquier County Public Schools made the decision a couple of years ago to end the practice of ‘lunch shaming,’ we knew we’d need people like Ann Anderson to support this decision,” Superintendent David Jeck said. “A very special ‘thank you’ to Ms. Anderson for helping to ensure that every child receives a complete and nutritious meal every day.”
The overall Fauquier County Public School lunch debt stands at almost $58,000, but those numbers ebb and flow as parents reconcile their accounts, Ms. Helkowski said. The school system’s nutrition self-sustaining program relies federal reimbursements and sales revenue.
“Parents are encouraged to contact their child’s school nutrition office to pay off any debt owed,” Ms. Helkowski wrote in a press release. “If you are a family experiencing financial hardship, even if only temporarily, or were denied benefits previously and your income has decreased, you may apply for school meal benefits by calling the school nutrition central office at 540-422-7221.”
“Due to Ms. Anderson's kindness and generosity, a great weight has been lifted for some families this holiday season,” said Stacie Griffin, chairman of the Fauquier Excellence in Education Foundation. “Thank you to Ms. Anderson and the many angels making a difference every day in our schools and in the community.”

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Moore25 · January 10, 2020 at 7:40 am
I think this was very generous of Ms. Anderson to help cover the debt of our school lunches for those children in need of assistance. My concern is the debt of those children who are not in need of assistance and the debt they have accrued isn't always due to parents not choosing to pay, it is sometimes due to the school's lunch staff not informing the student they don't have funds on their account and let the student accrue a negative balance until one day the parent finds out there is a debt on the account AND not only that as we are more electronic now and the "My School Bucks" is promoted to be used the fees for using this goes up, it is now $2.49 for each child you have to add funds to. So maybe some of this debt can be resolved if there was a better system instead of letting a student accrue a negative balance without notification. Oh, yes if you are registered with "My School Bucks" there are notifications but there is a fee of $2.49 to put funds on each child you have as I stated before. If these fees went towards those lunches of students who truly cannot afford lunch I wouldn't have any argument in paying the fees but these fees add up when you have more than one child and you can afford paying for lunches but in increments throughout the school year whereas someone else may be able to put a larger amount on their child's account and not have to pay the fee as often as others.

That's just my thoughts, again I think it's wonderful for Ms. Anderson to assist with those students who cannot afford lunches. We do need to look at affordable ways of being able to add funds to a student's lunch account and ways of communicating low lunch funds or negative balances on a student's lunch account.
Linda Ward · December 23, 2019 at 5:58 pm
Thank you Ms. Anderson! No child should go hungry in this county or country, ever.
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