Interim public schools CEO Monica Goldson had already said that any student impacted by the shutdown would receive a standard hot meal — but that guarantee only lasted through this week.
Now, a new fund has been established “to ensure that all students who need a hot meal will receive one throughout the shutdown and beyond.”
Speaking on Thursday, she said that $15,000 had been raised — enough for 5,000 meals.
Earlier this week, Goldson had also encouraged affected families to apply for existing free and reduced-price meal programs.
She added that “while the shutdown may have sparked the conversation, the reality is that school meal debt has been a problem for many school systems.” Debt is incurred by students who are given meals even though they don’t have money to pay for them.
Aside from those affected by the shutdown, many of the students racking up the debt come from families earning too much to qualify for assistance, or that have failed to fill out the required paperwork for assistance programs.
The county’s school system and the Falls Church, Virginia, city public school system also announced this week that they are expediting free and reduced lunch applications for newly qualified families.