Two GoFundMe campaigns knocked out student lunch debt at Sulphur and Davis schools this week.
A concerned citizen started two crowdfunding campaigns seeking $650 for Sulphur and $2,000 for Davis, and both surpassed their initial goals. Davis Superintendent Mark Moring said Jennifer Mayo, who ran a similar campaign for Sulphur last year, contacted him before she began.
“It was awesome of her, we’re going to use that money, and we’ll try to apply that evenly across the board,” Moring said. “It’s not going to eradicate all lunch debt, but it’s going to help.”
Davis opts to continue serving students with lunch debt instead of denying them lunch or giving them an alternative meal. About half of the district’s students are on free or reduced lunch.
Moring said the district has roughly 1,000 students currently. Moring said the district’s total lunch debt can easily hover around $10,000.
“Whether they owe $5 or $500, we continue to serve them,” Moring said.
Students’ families have to pay the balance by the end of the year or once a student graduates.
“It’s something that eventually gets paid off, but this is a relief for families, especially after the holidays,” Moring said.
The campaign flew past its initial funding goal of $2,000 in a few hours, and donations were still pouring in at presstime. Sulphur’s campaign had raised $685 at the time of this article’s writing.
Mayo, a Sulphur alum and current fellow at the Riata Center for Entrepreneurship at Oklahoma State University, has family members who still attend Sulphur Schools.
“It’s not a permanent solution, but it will help,” Mayo said.
This isn’t Mayo’s first effort along these lines. Last year, she started a more modest gofundme campaign to pay off some of Sulphur Schools’ lunch debt. She also started a food donation box in Sulphur two years ago, a project the community still maintains. She said she recognized the names of about half of the Davis donors.
“It’s not surprising to me, Murray County is just like that,” Mayo said. “When economic growth happens, they share with one another. When things get tougher, they help each other out.”
Free and reduced lunch programs are income-based, which Mayo said can easily pose a problem as sudden job loss, or a medical emergency, can easily strain an otherwise financially-stable household. In this case, some families have been impacted by the government shutdown. Mayo said she was surprised by the number of parents who contacted her and told her they were furloughed government employees.
“I didn’t know it was as big an issue in our community,” Mayo said.