GARDNER, Kan — Because of a sequence of personal donations made earlier than the vacation break, college students at Gardner Edgerton College District 231 who incurred college meal debt final semester are beginning off this new yr with no debt.
“We have been so excited to obtain that decision. Each single scholar in our district began with a clear slate after they got here again in January,” mentioned Amy Droegemeir, USD231’s director of vitamin companies.
Droegemeir says final semester college students racked up $700 in lunch debt, which is typical for the district. The non-public donations have been made by residents dwelling in Gardner and the North Level Basis. The donations additionally funded a weeks price of meals for 35 to 40 college students.
The 2022-2023 college yr additionally marked the primary time households have been answerable for paying for his or her scholar meals after the federal authorities pulled again their pandemic-era free lunch program.
“You might have youngsters deliver luggage of cash and typically they’re a little bit embarrassed and I’ve to remind them all of it spends the identical,” mentioned Lana Daharsh, USD231 cafeteria assistant.
This semester, 39% of USD231 college students certified at no cost or scale back meals, a rise of about 5% in comparison with 2019. Droegemeir estimates a further 5-7% of households utilized for this system, however didn’t qualify resulting from revenue necessities set by the federal authorities. Costs for varsity meals at USD231 fluctuate however for lunch meal prices vary from $2.85-$3 per meal.
“It’s odd to suppose that in Johnson County you will have that many households which can be struggling, however with inflation, your greenback doesn’t go as far,” Droegemeir mentioned.
The price of cafeteria operations have additionally gone up on prime of labor shortages. The district noticed a 20-25% improve on meals objects and provides final yr, main them to extend the value of college meals by $0.15.
Droegemeir defined the district’s dietary program is funded by grants from the USDA and depend on income constituted of their meals.
To offset prices the district switched again to washable trays and reusable provides and are providing households a restricted variety of courtesy meals in an effort to assist all college students succeed and never fear about grownup issues.
“We’re so grateful for the adults which have stepped as much as assist be sure our children can simply come to highschool, study, be nourished and be supplied for,” Droegemeir mentioned.