Donor Pays Off Battle Ground Schools Lunch Debt

Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, students of Battle Ground Public Schools will return to school without any outstanding lunch debt. The $40,000 gift was provided anonymously to the district through the Morgan Stanley Gift Fund. The remainder, about $800 in outstanding balances, will be covered by the Battle Ground Education Foundation, or BGeF. The result is that all active outstanding student debt has been wiped out.

The two donations cover active student lunch debt for nearly 1,900 students in the district. The donation does not, however, cover debts that have already been sent to collections.Twice each year, any student account owing more than $100 goes to collections and comes off the active debt amount. Students who participate in the Free and Reduced meals program will be the first to have any balances paid, followed by accounts on which parents have been making regular payments on the balance owed.

Student lunch debt is a relatively new concept. Before federal policy changed a few years ago in an effort to prevent "lunch shaming," students who had a negative account balance were given a cheese sandwich as an alternative meal. Today, all students are given the same nutritious meal, regardless of their account balance.

BGeF president Colleen O’Neal says the organization has been helping to pay for thousands of dollars in student lunch debt balances for several years through their “Kids in Need” campaign efforts, but the timing of this most recent donation is especially welcome. “I was thrilled, because it’s one less thing for our families to have to worry about right now,” O’Neal said. “The more we can take off their plates, the better.”

Although BGPS regularly receives contributions of a few hundred or even a thousand dollars at a time to go towards student lunch debt, the $40,000 donation is exceptionally generous.

“This is huge, and is really going to be helpful right now,” said Meagan Hayden, Chief Financial Officer for Battle Ground Public Schools. “Especially at this time when a lot of parents are probably wondering how they’re going to pay their next mortgage or utilities, or are having to temporarily shut down their businesses.”

Source: Battle Ground School District

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