By CRISTINA JANNEY
No child who goes through the lunch line at USD 489 Hays goes away hungry, thanks to the generosity of anonymous donors from the community.
Jessica Younker, nutrition director, told the school board Monday night the school district keeps funds in reserve to pay for children's meals if their lunch accounts go negative.
"We believe all kids should eat, and they can't perform at their best if they are not fed," she said. "They can't do what they need to if they are hungry."
Younker said this does not mean the school district will not contact parents and collect on lunch debt, but the district's policy is to not let any child go hungry.
Lunch debt has made the news in other school districts across the nation as some school districts have taken more drastic policies to get parents to pay for school lunches.
Kerri Lacy, principal at Lincoln Elementary School, said she occasionally has anonymous donors who come in to the school and write checks toward unpaid lunch bills.
Younker said the district also works with parents and guardians to get children who qualify signed up for free or reduced-price meals.
During the 2018-19 school year, USD 489 served 385,674 lunches and 70,779 breakfasts.
Of the district's 3,024 students, 39.1 percent receive assistance through the free and reduced-price lunch program.