Texas Church Gives $24K to Show God's Grace, Help Pay Off Student Lunch Debt
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A Texas church is showing God's compassion to its community by paying off more than $20,000 worth of student lunch debt to "fill the gap" and provide kids in need with school meals.
Covenant Presbyterian Church in Austin, Texas has committed to pay $24,000 to Austin Independent School District (AISD) to pay off the debt that has accrued during the 2022-23 school year, as well as cover the cost of lunch debt for the remainder of the year.
"Our hope is we fill a gap that other folks haven't been able to fill, that kids have one less thing to be concerned about," wrote the church's mission director, Whitney Bell, on the church's blog.
"We hope Covenant shows our school district that we love and care for all students, especially the kids stuck in the middle who can't afford lunch but may not qualify for free or reduced lunch," she added.
Covenant explained that the school district has done a good job of providing lunches for students who can't pay.
Primary and junior high students can charge up to three meals when they don't have the money. Meanwhile, high school students are able to charge up to two meals. When the student reaches their limit, the school district will provide courtesy lunches. However, they do not have the funds to pay for those lunches.
"The district basically has a Go-Fund-Me page because they want to be able to continue to feed these kids," Bell explained.
With the $24,000 donation, $14,000 will erase all AISD lunch debt and an additional $10,000 will be designated for future debt.
According to KXAN-TV, the church uses these funds for missional giving, every year. Last year, they used the $24,000 to pay for Central Texans' medical debt and combat homelessness.
This year, the focus is to help students.
"A family of four bringing in a total of $50,000 a year doesn't qualify for lunch at a reduced cost," Bell said. "This is a huge gap … especially considering the cost of living in Austin. The majority of kids accruing debt are from poor working families."
According to AISD, they serve more than 60,000 meals daily.
"The idea that a child could be prevented from fully participating in their school because of debt they accrue when eating lunch ought to disturb us," Senior Pastor Thomas Daniel said. "I am proud we are stepping up to fill this gap."
"The fact that this is a gift given to every student who qualifies – no strings attached – embodies the free and unmerited grace we have all received and is the foundation of our Christian faith," he added.
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