Green River Star -

By Stephanie Thompson
People Editor 

Donations help kids eat


February 14, 2018

Paying students’ negative balances off is something residents in Green River are trying to help out with.

With 776 students, or 30 percent of Sweetwater County School district No. 2, on the free and reduced lunch meal program, the need to help pay off balances for those who have to go on this program is increasing. Thanks to donations of more than $1,500, the community is helping out with those negative balances, Linda Martin, director of  nutrition services, said. 

The money received through donations will go to help pay off meal balances to low-income families. Not only do the donations help the families, but the district.

“We cannot stop a student from eating even if there account is negative $500,” Martin said.

Usually, the problem starts when a family member is laid off or loses their job. Martin said when this happens, the person who has lost the job doesn’t think about paying for their kid’s lunch because they are thinking about bills, such as rent and utilities.

“It might be two or three weeks before they even think about applying,” Martin said.

By then, the family already has a negative balance. This is where the donations come in. It helps cover that negative balance the family built up before they applied to receive free or reduced lunches. 

“Free is free. Unless the already have a negative balance,” she said.

However, prices for those on reduced lunch are .40 cents for lunch and .30 cents for breakfast.

Other families who have built up negative balances due to other issues, such as medical bills, are also helped out. Martin said these families may not even qualify for free or reduced lunch programs because they have an income higher than the requirements. The only problem is they are going in debt paying medical bills for a sick child or other family member. Martin said this is not something new to this country. In fact, there is a program called lunch angels, which is basically the same program.

“I think it would be important to note, they are being fed healthy foods based on Food and Drug Administration regulations,” Martin said about school lunches.

These meals are designed to be healthy and nutritious. The meals include fruits, veggies, dairy products, whole-grain foods and a meat. Children who aren’t hungry, just learn better.

“If their tummies are telling them they are hungry, they are not going to focus on that math problem in front of them,” Martin said.

Martin wanted to make sure residents who have children in the schools who can’t afford to pay for their lunches know they can still apply for the free and reduced lunch program. 

“We accept applications right up to the last week of school, she said.”

It’s also never too late to donate. Those who would like to make donations to help families pay of balances can do so by taking the donation to their school of choice, giving it to Central Administration Building or they can mail it in. Martin said residents can even remain anonymous if they wish.


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