Some Fort Mill High School graduates have set out to help take a burden off local families.
The Ol’ School Crowd, a group of Fort Mill High School graduates from the class of 1974 and others, are raising money to help pay students’ negative lunch balances, said Jean Deese, a member of the group.
The group has funded multiple community projects for Fort Mill schools, such as “Buddy Benches” for elementary schools, Deese said. She said she wanted to help after hearing of students who don’t get to eat lunch.
“I can’t stand the thought of a child going hungry,” Deese said. “It’s not their fault.”
I can’t stand the thought of a child going hungry. It’s not their fault.
Jean Deese, Ol’ School Crowd member
The group is donating the money to Fort Mill school district’s Angel Fund.
Each school in Fort Mill has an Angel Fund, in which citizens donate money to the school to help pay students’ negative lunch balances, said Joe Burke, the district’s chief communications officer. The program was established four years ago.
Donations have covered much of, but not all, student lunch debt, Burke said. He said the Student Nutrition Department allocates the donations equally across accounts with negative balances.
The exact amount donated to date is unknown, Burke said.
The Fort Mill school district allows students to charge up to $15 before they are served a substitute meal, according to district policy. Elementary student lunches cost $2.25.
“It is important to note that the Fort Mill school district has always been flexible with negative balances of students,” Burke said. “We always offer a meal to the student if they have a high negative balance.”
Alternate meals vary for each district but typically consist of a sandwich, fresh or cup fruit and milk. All substitute meals meet nutrition guidelines.
Fort Mill students are charged $1 for an alternate breakfast and $2 for an alternate lunch, according to the meal policy.
School officials communicate to parents when their child’s account goes low, Burke said.
Fort Mill’s student meal policy states: “In order to safeguard the dignity and confidentiality of students, reasonable efforts must be used to avoid calling attention to the student’s unpaid balances and/or inability to pay.”
The Ol’ School Crowd has already paid off one student’s account through donations, Deese said. She said the group will continue collecting donations for the foreseeable future. The effort is open to anyone who wants to help.
“It’s something the Lord laid on my heart,” Deese said. “I feel like a child can’t learn if they are hungry.”
Amanda Harris: 803-329-4082
Want to help?
Donations to help pay Fort Mill student lunch debt can be sent by check to:
Fort Mill School Cafeteria Angel Fund Account, Attn: Tammie Welch, 2233 Deerfield Dr., Fort Mill, SC 29715
Student meal policy by district
All York, Chester and Lancaster County school districts’ alternate meals meet nutrition guidelines. All of the districts also notify parents and/or guardians when students’ meal accounts run low.
Fort Mill students can charge up to $15 before they are served a substitute meal. Students are charged $1 for an alternate breakfast and $2 for an alternate lunch. Elementary student lunches cost $2.25.
Rock Hill students may charge up to $10 before they are served an alternate meal. Students are not charged for alternate meals. Elementary school lunches are $2.20.
The York school district allows students to charge breakfast and lunch up to five days before they are served a substitute meal. Students are not charged for alternate meals. Elementary student lunches cost $2.35.
The Clover school district begins making automated phone calls when a student has less than $6 in his or her account, said Bryan Dillon, public information officer. Elementary student lunches cost $2.40.
Chester County students may charge up to $10 before receiving a substitute meal. Students are not charged for an alternate meal. Elementary student lunches cost $1.85.
Chester County offers all students free breakfast.
Lancaster County elementary students may charge meals up to five days before parents are notified of a negative balance in the student’s account.