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Leon County Schools receives surprise donation to help pay lunch debt of students

Posted at 4:05 PM, Dec 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-02 18:40:44-05

LEON COUNTY, Fla. — Leon County Schools is making sure no student goes hungry and now a surprise gift, in the giving spirit of the holiday season is helping them achieve that.

"Just blown away by the generosity of this individual and appreciative," said Rocky Hanna, Superintendent Leon County Schools.

Hanna talking about the $1,500 that someone in the community donated to help cover unpaid student lunch debt. 30 out of the 40 schools in Leon County are part of the Community Eligibility Provision or CEP program.

"If your school site is over 40 percent direct certified, which is through SNAP, then it is declared a CEP school. Everyone at that site eats for free," said James Howcroft, Nutrition Services Director for Leon County Schools.

There are only 10 schools in Leon County where students have to pay for their lunch. Those schools had a total of $4,000 in lunch debt, but now it's down to $2,500.

"We have a number of our kids, unfortunately who are up against tough financial times, and our families as well so these dollars will be put to good use," said Hanna.

Regardless, whether a child has lunch debt or not in Leon County, there is no lunch shaming, they are never denied a hot meal.

"What we do is when a child comes through the line with a hot meal they always get to keep that meal. We never take meals away from children," said Howcroft.

Hot meals make healthy kids and Leon County is hoping to add six more elementary schools to the CEP program next year.

All Gadsden County public schools are part of the CEP program. No student has to come out of pocket for their lunch, so there is no unpaid lunch debt.