Students at Lone Peak Elementary are doing their part to wipe out school lunch debt, one penny at a time. For their holiday donation drive this year, students were challenged to scavenge kitchen drawers and sofa cushions for loose change. The goal: Collect enough cash to pay off the past due lunch balances at their school.
The campaign exceeded expectations, however. In all, students raised more than $3,000 — enough to cover their school and pay down 70 percent of the lunch balances at two neighboring Title I schools within the District.
Turning the campaign into a contest helped. Classes that collected the most coins by weight were eligible for prizes, explained Principal Stacy Tracy.
But Lone Peak students aren’t the only do-gooders in the Canyons District community to step forward to combat hunger and ease families’ lunch-debt burden. Oakdale sponsored a similar fundraiser, and a good Samaritan in Cottonwood Heights has anonymously donated several thousand dollars to the cause over the past year.
Even with free and reduced lunch programs, some students still can’t afford school lunch, says CSD’s Nutrition Services Director Sebasthian Varas. “Some parents are unaware that assistance is available, or they’re uncertain how to apply.”
To ensure that no child goes hungry, CSD has adopted a kinder-gentler approach to collecting unpaid balances. Students with debt still receive a full lunch, and all efforts to collect money are directed at parents, sparing children any embarrassment. At no point are lunch fees or overdue bills discussed with children, Varas said.