Through an online donation link, available here, anyone can help erase student lunch debt for others in the district.
There are currently 755 students in the Edmonds School District who have some sort of debt related to school lunches, totaling $6,936.13, or an average of about $9.19 per student. That debt is carried over in the food service department’s budget.
Most of the students in debt, 424, are in elementary school. They hold a total of $1,329.59 of the debt. However, more than half of the debt, a total of $4,769.24, is held by 250 high school students.
While meals are not provided to students without money to pay for them, there are a few ways students’ accounts can go negative. The most common way, Lloyd said, is when a parent fills a student’s lunch account with a check that eventually bounces.
“We put money in the account when we get the check,” Lloyd said. “But if it bounces, in the meantime you’ve eaten a few lunches, and now you’re in debt.”
The food service department regularly communicates with the parents of students buying school meals. Emails and letters are sent home to parents once a student’s lunch account gets below $10. Reminder emails are sent weekly if money is not added.
“We try to prevent this from happening in the first place,” Lloyd said. “Otherwise, it stays on our books.”
Debt also does not prevent a student from buying a meal if they can pay for it that day.
Students cannot retrieve their transcripts if they have any debt to the school, including lunch debt. The food service department will work out payment plans in some cases, but transcripts cannot be provided until the debts are paid in full.
Most of the $6,936.13 debt currently held by the food services department is from current students. Lunches in elementary school cost $2.95 each. Middle and high school lunches cost $3.75 each. The reduced lunch price for students in grades 4-12 is 40 cents.
The link to donate to the school lunch debt fund was created in February. Since then, the district has raised approximately $272 in donations.
For those interested in donating to a specific student’s or school’s lunch debt, specify who or which school in the “memo” box. Otherwise, donations will go toward the general debt.
Donations can also be made by mailing a check to Edmond School District Food Services, 20420 68th Ave. W., Lynnwood, WA 98036. Write “donation” in the memo line, and specify a school or student account if desired.
–By Natalie Covate