Every delinquent student lunch account in AISD is now up to date, thanks to your generosity.

Yesterday, I blogged about what happens when a student can’t pay his or her school lunch/breakfast account, and you responded by donating more than $10,000 to help catch up students who’d fallen behind.

That wipes the slate clean, for now.

Some back story:

In some states, students can be asked to clean tables or otherwise work off their outstanding balance, but even though that practice doesn’t happen in Central Texas’ largest school district, students who have a negative balance are offered courtesy meals of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in elementary school and a salad in middle and high school.

School lunches are evolving rapidly in terms of quality and availability, but if a student has a negative balance in his or her account, the school offers a courtesy meal, which is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in elementary school and a salad in middle and high schools. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

Even without the shame of having to be called out in front of your peers as poor, there’s still a fair amount of shame in not having the same options as your friends.

More than 250 of you decided to chip in to ease that shame. In less than a day, the AISD EdBacker campaign exceeded its initial goal of $10,000 to pay off the outstanding balances of every student in the district, according to Anneliese Tanner, director of AISD’s food services department who is overseeing some really cool work in the district.

The total is now at $13,181 and counting, a far cry from the $1,300 in the account when we first shared it, but that’s not anywhere close to the $350,000-$500,000 that is the cumulative total of unpaid meals that AISD absorbs into its budget every year.

In a few months, you can check back in with your local school to see if there’s a debt you can help pay, or you can organize with your neighborhood or co-workers to pay off an entire school’s. It’s not an ideal way to handle the problem of poverty and food access in America, but it’s a short-term solution that without a doubt, will brighten someone’s day.

And remember that Austin is only one district in Central Texas with an ever-growing student lunch debt. Del Valle ISD, which wraps along Austin’s eastern edge and has more than 11,000 students, could use a little of this philanthropic bounty, even if it’s a temporary respite.

It’s cumbersome to write and mail a check, but you can mail one, written out to the district and with “negative lunch balances” in the memo, to 5301 Ross Road, Del Valle, TX, 78617.

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