SARATOGA SPRINGS — Residents have rallied in one Utah County community to help contribute to school lunch accounts so students can eat at school without the embarrassment of overdue funds.
Some things at school are obvious. The sound of the bell means recess is over. Lights tell you when it’s time to slow down. Other things are harder to notice.
Especially in a school cafeteria, where among all the chatter there is often a lonely feeling, when children go beyond what the school allows on their lunch account balance.
“As a single parent myself, it broke my heart, I have the ability gratefully to take care of my kids,” said Jennifer Earnshaw, whose children attend school in Saratoga Springs.
She said she recently learned friends of her children were not getting a lunch at school because of negative accounts, and that it’s more common than people may realize.
“Kids who are not eating because their lunch accounts are paid for or they are too embarrassed to get that partial meal because everyone knows what that means,” Earnshaw said.
So Earnshaw posted about her concerns on a Facebook page in Saratoga Springs and within just a few hours people responded.
“The post took on a life of its own and I had a lot of people started asking, and so I called around to the schools in the district and found out there are delinquent accounts at all of the schools in the district can use help,” she added.
Those who work at the school said it is always an emotional time for these children when they don’t have enough money for school lunch.
“It has really touched our hearts in the office because that is the hardest thing is to see those kids come in and they are crying on the phone. ‘Mom I just need some money,’ and you want to help them out,” said Kristen Turner, a secretary at Harvest Elementary School on Providence Drive.
While privacy considerations do not allow a school to release which students are in need, community members can contact their neighborhood school and make an anonymous donation toward delinquent accounts.
“I think it is really great to have an opportunity in your own community that affects your neighbors and people that your kids go to school with,” said Karin Brown, a parent who has been helping to facilitate donations at local schools.
Knowing a small anonymous good deed may help brighten a child’s day.
“That can make a difference for that child’s Christmas ultimately because you are freeing up money from that parent’s budget,” Earnshaw said.