It can be quite a challenge to get anything done on an empty stomach. Now, one grandfather is making sure kids in the Francis Howell School District don't have to worry about who is paying for their lunch and other donors are jumping on board, too.
This is the first year for the "Lunch Heroes" program in the district. District leaders say it started with a $1,000 donation from a parent in the Fall. After that, they formalized the program to benefit all students. Since then, nearly $20,000 has been donated, according to Jennifer Henry, spokeswoman for the district.
Students are noticing the generosity.
"It was amazing that they would give a bunch of money to all the schools so kids could have a warm lunch and not worry about it," said Avery Thebeau, a 5th grade student at John Weldon Elementary School. "When you're not hungry, it's easier to focus and have a better day."
One of the most notable donations was from a grandfather, who asked not to be identified. He paid off all the lunch balances at three schools in the district for a total of $1,500.
"I know he made it in honor of a family member who passed away. He had grandchildren here and just the impact the district made on his grandchildren, he was very thankful for that and wants to be able to spread that joy to others," said Bryan Howse, principal at John Weldon Elementary School.
More donations have also come from other parents, patrons, staff, and community organizations, including $2,000 from Tri-County Labor, $2,500 from the teacher union FHEA, and a $1,500 donation from Church of the Shepherd.
"Our counselors are working with principals to make sure they are able to identify students who are in need. They look at free and reduced lunch status as well as outstanding balances," said Henry.
Anyone interested in donating can do so directly on the district's website and give to a specific school or the district in general. They can also drop off a cash of check to a school.