Each year, the staff of The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina (CFWNC) celebrates the season by selecting an organization or project to support. This year, CFWNC staff and board and the Yancey Affiliate Fund made contributions of $1,400 to satisfy the current school lunch debt for students in Yancey County.
Starting in 2017, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) required schools to develop plans for students whose families struggle to pay for their meals. While the USDA spends more than $22 billion a year on child nutrition programs, it prohibits schools from using federal funds to pay off meal debt.
In WNC, the amount of school lunch debt constantly changes as families enter and exit the free and reduced lunch programs and/or pay their balances. Food policy advocates recognize that having a healthy meal in the middle of the day is necessary for student success, and many believe that every student should get a meal, regardless of ability to pay.
“As a staff, we decided that this is a way we could support our schools and students and bring attention to this ongoing issue,” said CFWNC President Elizabeth Brazas. “Children should not be worried about lunch. Ultimately, we would like to see school lunches made permanently affordable or free for all students.”
“Teachers and administrators care deeply about keeping students safe and healthy,” said Yancey County Superintendent Kathy Amos. “We know that hunger impacts a student’s ability to learn. We strive to remove barriers to school success for all of our students. This contribution is appreciated by Yancey County Schools and families.”
CFWNC has information on existing lunch debts for other school systems. If you would like to help a WNC county with its school lunch debt balance, email or call Angel Hines (email@example.com or 828-254-4960) for details.
The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina (CFWNC) works with families, businesses and nonprofits to strengthen communities through the creation of charitable funds and strategic grant making. A permanent charitable resource, the Foundation manages over 1,100 funds and facilitated $20 million in grants last year bringing total giving to more than $254 million since its founding in 1978. The Yancey Fund, a CFWNC affiliate fund, was established in 1998 by local residents as a resource for charitable efforts that benefit Yancey County. Learn more at www.cfwnc.org.