Local Non-Profits & Businesses Partner to Pay Off Past Due Lunch Debt for Public School Children

The Lowcountry Blessing Box Project has partnered with fellow non-profit organization I Heart Hungry Kids, the Queen Street Hospitality Group, and the Charleston Restaurant Foundation to launch "Catch Up on Lunch," a fundraising effort to repay past due lunch debt for public school children in Charleston, Dorchester, and Berkeley Counties.

“The recent government shutdown has brought focus to an ongoing problem in our school districts - families are unable to keep up with the cost of school lunches," Katie Dahlheim, founder of the Lowcountry Blessing Box Project, said. "Schools are forced to choose between incurring the debt or feeding their students. Since hungry students are unable to focus on their studies, most schools are choosing to give meals to students with past due balances."

Large past due lunch balances place a huge burden on our schools to shift budgets and take funds from staff development, learning materials, arts programs, and other initiatives. It also places students at risk for lunch shaming, a practice in which students who have used up their school meal accounts are denied lunches, served cold or cheap food instead of a hot meal, or are sent home with stamps on their hands to remind their parents to settle their balances.

During the 2018-2019 school year, Dorchester District 2 students have incurred more than $136,000 in lunch debt. In Berkeley County, the debt has reached more than $300,000. Charleston County School District has around $88,000 in school lunch debt.

Catch Up on Lunch will feature "spirit nights" at local restaurants where portions of the night's profits will be donated to the cause.

To donate online or to learn more, please visit www.catchuponlunch.com.

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