In the summer of 2022, the federal government discontinued the free meal program for all students. School districts across the country reverted back to the program in place prior to the pandemic which required parents to complete applications to receive free or reduced meals based upon family income or through direct certification based on benefits already in place.
This meant that the money owed by families for school meals prior to the pandemic resurfaced, as well as new account charges with the sudden shift of the federal government’s stance on school lunches. In order for those students, not approved for federal assistance, to receive a non-alternate school lunch, their account must be current.
Unfortunately, there is no mechanism in place to allow districts to forgive debt, as the district is responsible for bearing the burden if the family cannot. This year as Washington Court House City Schools looked to balance the books in the food service department, the district sent out invoices to a good number of families informing them of their situation.
As of this writing, Blue Lion students have approximately $50,000 in outstanding debt accumulated for school meals from previous years or after the change in federal funding this school year.
However, through the generosity of one family at Belle Aire Intermediate, Christmas came early this year. That is because Jeremy and Crystal Howland saw a need and stepped up to help. The Howland family personally covered $2,308 in outstanding breakfast or lunch fees for the Blue Lions at Belle Aire Intermediate. This generous gift comes at a time when we sometimes have a hard time seeing good in our world.
In a letter from the Howlands, they state, “We feel this will help to reduce some financial burden of the families affected during this upcoming holiday season and to ensure that all students receive the same meal at school.”
Dr. Tom Bailey, superintendent of Washington Court House City Schools, said this about the Howland family, “Our district is better because of you! I am blessed to serve a district where there are so many wonderful people. Together, anything is possible!”
Gary Campbell, food service director, said, “Thank you to Jeremy and Crystal Howland for helping our Blue Lions in need. It is very much appreciated.”
Questions about the Washington Court House City Schools Food Service Program can be directed to Gary Campbell, director, at 740-335-6620 or [email protected]