Jackson County

Anonymous donor who paid off lunch debt is ‘a really great blessing’

Schools often allow younger students to charge when they forget their lunch money. An anonymous donor paid off all outstanding school-lunch accounts in the Ocean Springs School District earlier this month.
Schools often allow younger students to charge when they forget their lunch money. An anonymous donor paid off all outstanding school-lunch accounts in the Ocean Springs School District earlier this month. amccoy@sunherald.com File

An anonymous donor stepped up at the beginning of May and paid off school lunch charges for all the students in the Ocean Springs School District.

Gayle Schultz, the head of child nutrition for the district, was grateful.

“That was really a great big blessing for the parents and the district,” she said.

It’s the first time they’ve had something like that happen.

Schultz said they try to keep the lunch charges paid up as they get close to the end of the school year. Because the school district is federally funded, it’s not allowed to carry an unpaid balance forward, she said.

Younger students are allowed to charge if they forget their lunch money. High school students are on a prepay or pay-as-you-go system.

The donation, $760, took care of 171 students, mostly kindergarten through the eighth grade.

There weren’t any accounts more than $20, she said.

Schultz said because lunch money is left in book bags or parents get busy and forget, there will be a few more charges before the end of the year, but nothing like this, only minimal.

Lunch in the district costs $2.75.

The school district takes the loss if the charge accounts remain unpaid, she said, but parents are cooperative and work with the district.

Unpaid school lunch charges “is just life,” she said. “We’re all busy. We work with the parents.”

She said she believes the donor was from a local church.

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