About two years ago, Bedford County Public Schools mom Jenny Shutt learned what happened when a student would charge too many unpaid meals.
“That hot meal would be replaced with a cold sandwich,” she said, “and I thought that’s not how I want our school system to work.”
She worked with the district and mobilized community members to help.
“They had already set up what’s called Angel Funds at each school, but those funds weren’t staying funded regularly, so what we started to do was an outreach program.”
They formed a committee called Local Action Against Student Hunger.
Their mission is to raise funds to pay off student lunch debt.
“Yesterday we were able to get all of the lunch debt for Bedford County Public Schools paid off in full.”
District officials say that amounts to thousands of dollars of debt relief for students.
“It’s been a wonderful thing,” said Karen Arthur, the School Nutrition Supervisor for Bedford County Public Schools. “It’s very hard to not be able to continue to feed a child that hot meal, so this has just been a blessing.”
She says access to a hot meal is crucial for a child.
“Any time they’re well-nourished, they’re going to learn better. They’re going to be able to pay attention better in class, and it just makes their day go a little bit better when we are able to continue providing them the meal that they’re used to each day.”
The relief comes just in time. Students in Bedford County return to school on Wednesday.