The holiday is a beautiful season full of kind hearts and major give back. Many people make it point to seek out certain charities or organizations they can donate to, whether it be money, toiletries, toys, or clothes and shoes.
In a purely selfless act, and a little push sparked from news coverage, four business men paid off nearly $40,000 in school lunch debt for students’ families in the Lancaster City School District. Surprisingly for one of the men, this was not their first time being so generous.
Two years ago, Chad Hutchinson paid of $14,000 of unpaid lunch debt after putting away extra cash for Lancaster schools! This year, the number more than doubled and Hutchinson decided to call on more forces to help get the job done!
He recruited three other business acquaintances, Leonard Gorsuch, Monte Black, and Lloyd Helber to assist in the effort. The trio all served as mentors to Hutchinson in the past.
“I was raised poor, so I know what it’s like to be in a situation when you don’t have enough,” he said.
Hutchinson makes sure he gives back to the community that gives to him. He credits them for the consistent prosperity of his company and feels blessed to have excess income, which is why he shares it.
Families can get in default with their children’s lunches for a number of reasons, including forgetfulness, lack of money, or simply not knowing they need to pay.
“We do quite a bit to collect these debts,” he said. “We do letters home, phone calls home, and for whatever reason, they just haven’t paid their debts,” says Steven Wigton, superintendent for Lancaster City Schools.
Karah Smith, the district’s food service supervisor, said, “We just know what’s coming next.”
The debt the men paid off only covered the first half of the school year’s lunch debt. There is still another five months left before summer vacation begins.
“We just know that [non-payment] it’s going to continue,” said Smith.
Smith and Wigton want to make sure families are making sure to apply for the free and reduced lunch program. The application process is quick and the district processes all of the paperwork.
“The process is easy. You can apply online or a paper application can be sent home with the students,” said Smith. “I think everybody would be surprised that they would qualify for some type of help.”