WASHINGTON — Concerned citizens and a local organization are joining forces for the second year in a row to eliminate school meal debt for Virginia’s Loudoun County public school students.
Loudoun County Schools Nutrition Services Director Becky Domokos-Bays said two local residents approached her by phone after learning, through media reports, about a citizen in another district who paid off local school meal debts.
“I put those [two] people together, and we noodled it over a bit,” Domokos-Bays said. “They decided working with the Loudoun Education Foundation would be the most efficient way to run the fundraiser.”
One of those people was the former mayor of Purcellville Bob Lazaro.
“Last year, we eliminated $13,000 worth of school meal debt,” Lazaro said. He got the idea from a newspaper article he read and then started inquiring about meal debts in Loudoun County Public Schools because he wanted to help. “This year, our goal is $20,000,” Lazaro said.
Families that end up with school meal debt are not those that would qualify for free or reduced meals, Domokos-Bays said. She also said that families who incur school meal debt will attempt to pay back a lot of the times.
“Over time, when you have 90 schools, it doesn’t take a lot to build a debt,” she said.
And sometimes families just forget to give their kids lunch money.
“That happens occasionally,” Domokos-Bays said, adding that she even forgot a couple of times when her children were in elementary school.
Lazaro said the donation deadline is April 30, and all donated funds will be put to use. “Anything that’s raised above and beyond what’s not extinguished this year will be saved for next year,” he said.
The Loudoun Education Foundation is accepting donations online or via mail. If donating online via PayPal, be sure to write “school meal debt” in the special instructions field.
To donate via mail, make checks out to the following:
Loudoun Education Foundation (write “school meal debt” on the check’s memo line)
21000 Education Court
Ashburn, VA 20148.
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