Local heroes are making a difference every day in the fight against Coronavirus. We’re shining the spotlight on someone you nominated to raise awareness about their community relief efforts and inspire all to do the same.
Children across the country are struggling to fight hunger every day. Unfortunately, at school, many children are denied lunch due to overdrawn school lunch accounts. As reported by The Counter, “Median lunch debts have risen to $2,500 per school, up from $2,000 in 2016 and 2014.” And since the Coronavirus pandemic struck, hunger has become a bigger problem for families nationwide.
Alessandra Ferrara-Miller heard about school lunch debt in 2018 through a news story. A young boy at an elementary school had his lunch taken away, and he was sent home with a stamp on his arm that read ‘I need lunch money’ because his account was empty.
“That story broke my heart thinking about my child, as young as 5 years old, in kindergarten, having their lunch taken away due to financial situations that they do not control and, probably, don’t even understand,” Ferrara-Miller said.
She created All for Lunch when she found that lunch money was a nationwide problem — especially for those living food insecurity. She did the math to find that school lunch costs an average of $2.50 per day, and called on her community for help paying off lunch debt for kids — regardless of their circumstances.
“We started with the focus of only paying off lunch debt and then, as I worked more closely with the schools, I discovered paying off the lunch debt was only a band-aid solution,” said Ferrara-Miller. “Children who didn’t have the resources were back in debt the very next day.”
She also expanded the non-profit to include All for Lunch Reserve Accounts for kids that run out of lunch money in their accounts. The reserve account will cover the cost of the meal to make sure they’re not denied food.
Since the Coronavirus pandemic, All for Lunch has worked closely with school districts, cafeteria employees and volunteers to prepare pre-packaged lunches for children to pick up from their nearby school. Ferrara-Miller and her team also expanded their efforts to partner with food pantries and community co-ops to provide more food for families.
All for Lunch also takes online tax-deductible donations to help food pantries and co-ops restock essential food items. You can also specify the state or county that you’d like to receive your donation.
“I’ve found that during a time of crisis so many people want to help continue to support their neighbors and community — which has been really amazing, she said.
All for Lunch has received national support and Ferrara-Miller is working closely with the community to keep local pantries stocked and raising money for the reserve accounts for the upcoming fall school semester.
“There will be so many children returning to school this fall with their families facing new financial struggles as a result of the pandemic,” she explained. “So funding the reserve accounts is a major focus for the future.”
If you want to help, you can go to All for Lunch to learn more about what they’re doing and how you can contribute.
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