In the United States, student loans account for over $1 trillion in debt. More than 44 million Americans hold student loans, and about 70% of bachelors degree holders graduate with debt. More than 7 million student loans are currently in default, while the average Class of 2016 graduate has $37,172 in student loan debt.
While concerns have been growing about sky-high tuition fees, the rising cost of living, and the soaring cost of student loans, little attention is paid to the students who cannot afford to buy food because their families are struggling to find the money to send their children to school to receive ‘free’ and mandatory education.
In a moving gesture, however, an anonymous donor recently paid off the school lunch debts of every Port Clinton City School student — from kindergarten to grade 12.
Kids. Are. In. Debt. Because. They. Can’t. Afford. School. Lunches. https://t.co/6p6nLynG63
— FriedChickenBae (@kashmirVIII) March 5, 2017
The generous donation of more than $500, which helped clear the lunch debts of 158 students in Port Clinton, was made during the “Random Act of Kindness Week” held at Port Clinton High School, Ohio, in February.
The anonymous donor erased the debts in memory of Ruth Vogt, who passed away in January. She was the anonymous donor’s favorite lunch lady, who worked at Port Clinton High School cafeteria for 20 years before retiring in 1998.
Vogt’s daughter, Martha Vogt Snyder, a teacher at Bataan Memorial Elementary School, told News Herald:
“Whenever my mother was working the cash register, she would take spare change out of her own pocket to help out any kids who came up short for lunch. She was a very kind and generous soul.
“The donation in her memory was an incredible act of kindness and a wonderful gesture for our mom. We don’t know who this donor is, but whoever thought of this kind gift really knew our mother well. We want them to know that our mom is smiling down on them.”
Superintendent Pat Adkins, speculating whether it was Vogt’s friend or just a former student on whom Vogt left a lasting positive impression, added the district has never had anyone make a donation of that kind before:
“They are a wonderful family. I think it was a great way to recognize her. Certainly, I think it took a lot of our community members by surprise, as it did us. It was a really cool thing. It was a neat way to do it.”
The anonymous act of kindness highlights how it is becoming difficult to consistently keep the school-age children adequately fed. According to the 2015 Hunger in Our Schools report, 3 out of 4 public school teachers say that they see students regularly come to school hungry.
Nearly 750,000 of Ohio’s 1.8 million school-age kids are eligible for the federal free and reduced-price lunch program, which means more than 4 in 10 school-age kids are still living in poor households unable to make ends meet and provide sufficient food for their children. Attn: reports:
“In Ohio, 41 percent of students qualify for subsidized school lunches, which means their families make between 130 and 185 percent of the federal poverty rate. In hard numbers, that comes out to about $26,546 to $37,777 a year for a family of three.”
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