Teenagers Help Erase School Lunch Debt

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It cannot be emphasized enough: kids need to eat healthy, nutritious meals in order for them to succeed academically. There is an indisputable link between nutrition and the development of children’s brains. Despite this importance, many kids go hungry.

Kids from low-income families, including a disproportionate number of Latinos, often go without meals at school because the owe money. School lunch debt is a huge issue in cities across the country.

A 2016 survey by the School Nutrition Association of 1,000 school meal program operators, about 75% of districts had unpaid student meal debt at the end of the school year.

The median amount of debt per district was $2,000, but it can run much higher in large districts. For example, the Oakland Unified School District in Oakland, Calif. (26.13% Latino population), alone has over $300,000 in lunch debt.

At the Yonkers School District in Yonkers, NY (35.53% Latino) has $800,000 in unpaid lunch accounts.

In an effort to combat this growing problem, high school students Christian Cordon-Cano and Bernardo Hasbach created the nonprofit group School Lunch Fairy in an effort to erase school lunch debt. Since launching earlier in the year, they have raised over $10,000 and helped schools in 6 states.

They now have an even more ambition plan: partnering with touring music artists Dalton, The House On Cliff, and Lauren Carnahan. The artists’ upcoming 18-city tour will directly raise funds for School Lunch Fairy.

“I’ve seen how hard it is for someone to skip a meal or two at school because you don’t have money,” said William Santana, bassist for The House On Cliff, in a news release. “No kid should ever go hungry at school in America.”

Learn more about the tour here.

Read more about the school lunch debt problem here:

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By The Numbers By The Numbers

46

Percent

of all Latinos are homeowners. That's far fewer than Whites (72%).

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