Fundraiser looks to pay off school lunch debt in Iredell County

The online fundraiser started with a mom who posted to Facebook.
Parents started to initiative to pay off the lunch debt as the school year winds down.
Published: Apr. 24, 2023 at 11:22 AM EDT|Updated: Apr. 24, 2023 at 1:04 PM EDT
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IREDELL COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - Parents and community members in Iredell County are banding together to pay off school lunch debt so the district isn’t stuck with the bill.

An online fundraiser started with a mom who posted to Facebook.

Emily Kiral posted a meme that read, “Don’t buy coffee for the person in the drive thru line behind you, call a school and buy a child lunch.”

Kiral and her friend, Jean Foster, say they had no idea the impact that simple Facebook post was going to make.

At Iredell-Statesville Schools, breakfast and lunches range from $1.50 to $3. A child will never be turned away if they don’t have the money, but someone has to foot the bill.

“Administrators in the buildings have to figure out where it’s coming from. So, if a school owes $2,000, the principals, teachers, the staff, they’re having to find that somewhere in the budget, which just doesn’t exist,” Foster said.

It’s why Foster is fundraising alongside Kiral.

When Kiral made the Facebook post, she asked parents to help pay off the lunch debt at her child’s school, to take the stress off teachers and administrators at Third Creek Middle.

“Within an hour we had raised $2,270, which paid off Third Creek Middle and went $720 for Third Creek Elementary,” Foster said.

The moms weren’t finished there; the initiative snowballed. Now the goal is to pay the lunch debt at every school in the district. However, it’s a tall order.

“Thirty-thousand dollars and it’s a moving target,” Foster said. “And that’s unusual. Normally the debt for the school year is about $10,000 but this year with the changes in the federal government laws and the elimination of the COVID relief, we now have that extra debt.”

Donations from the Iredell County community are rolling in steadily. Dr. Boen Nutting, assistant superintendent with Iredell-Statesville Schools, says the fundraiser has made all the difference.

“Public schools have been through a lot in the last couple of years and to have our community step up and be there for us and be there for the children, it just kind of restores my faith in how we are all trying to move forward and support each other,” Nutting said.

The goal is to raise approximately $30,105. By Monday morning, more than $6,500 had been raised.

Those who would like to donate can do so here.