Pacific Eagle Mike Mueller said he experienced a big-eye opener moment recently when he learned that some kids don’t eat lunch at school because they are embarrassed with the alternate meal of milk, fruit and a sandwich they receive when their lunch money deposited at the school has run out.
The practice is most common among high school students who are especially sensitive to the opinions of their peers.
“This just isn’t something I can live with,” Mueller said. “Every kid needs to eat lunch.”
Mueller asked his fellow Eagles to help do something about it. Eagles President Dan McClain agreed.
The Eagles donated $1,000 to be applied to the students’ lunch debt across the district.
Over Christmas, a Facebook plea for donations got others to respond. The district received $3,500 in mostly anonymous donations to pay off school lunch debt.
“Every student eats lunch,” said Dr. Jeff Haug, district chief financial officer. “We don’t let any student go without lunch. Students whose lunch balance reaches a minus $10 are given an alternative meal of milk, fruit and a sandwich.”
Haug said administrators don’t want children to be embarrassed in the lunch line.
No student is caught off guard in the lunch line. Each day the building secretaries pull the kids out of class to tell them that they have reached the minus $10 threshold and will receive the alternative lunch. Parents also are notified.
Children from the poorest families get free or reduced-price meals, but some struggle to pay even reduced prices.
Mueller said he would like to see the community join the Eagles and other donors to pay off the school lunch debts of every student.
Mueller will chair a barbecue fundraiser at the Eagles Saturday, Feb. 23, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. to benefit the lunch program.
“I hope people will come out and have some barbecue and give us a hand,” he said.
The Eagles Hall is located at 7078 W. Congress St.