A new year, a new need for donations to help pay off school lunch debt

Remember when paying off school lunches became something of a viral form of activism last year?

Austin ISD serves about 80,000 meals a day, including about 700 to students who are far enough behind in paying for their lunches that they receive a “courtesy” meal that the district absorbs into its operating costs. Ralph Barrera/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Students who can’t pay for their lunch has always been an issue, but it’s on Americans’ minds as school funding and other assistance programs are cut. In the Austin school district alone, the nutrition and food services department serves 80,000 meals per day, including about 700 meals that the students receiving them can’t pay for.
hose courtesy meals, as they are known, cost the school $350,000 each year. In late 2016, AISD opened a crowdfunding campaign that went viral and eventually raised more than $20,000 to help with students’ lunch.

Austin Independent School District provides healthy, nutritious lunches to thousands of students, even if they can’t afford to pay for it, but the courtesy meal ends up coming out of the nutrition and food services budget. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

Anticipating a similar need this year, AISD launched another crowdfunding campaign with a goal of $10,000 to help students during this school year.
Right now, 24 backers have donated $1,735.
If you’re feeling generous with that post-holiday glow, you can donate here to help alleviate even more student lunch debt in Austin.
Here’s how you can help other Austin-area schools with lunch debt.