• Action News Jax Investigates: School lunch debt in Jacksonville area schools

    By: Letisha Bereola , Action News Jax


    Hundreds of students in Northeast Florida started the school year in school lunch debt.

    Many families fall behind on lunch payments and in most cases that debt stays with children throughout their public school education.

    When Dan Meyers, a father in St. Simons Island, found out anyone could help get accounts up to date, he decided to make that happen.

    "I put it on Facebook and just said, 'Hey guys, I'm stopping by the school to pay off some debt if anyone else wants to join in let me know and I can help you facilitate that,'” said Meyers.

    Over several days Meyers mission became a movement.

    “It got bigger than I could handle,” Meyers said.

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    Meyers raised more than $6,000. Enough to wipe out lunch money debt at more than a dozen schools in Glynn County.

    “My belief is if you want a kid to learn you got to have a safe place to sleep and have food in their stomachs. If they don't have that, then there is no point in the education process,” Meyers said.

    Action News Jax asked three area districts just how much lunch money debt students had before the start of the 2017-2018 school year. School leaders said it’s important to keep in mind numbers fluctuate and some of the debt can be as little as five cents. And, not every dollar can traced back to a family in financial trouble.

    But the numbers show, as a whole, big money is owed.

    In Clay County, about 9,000 students had lunch debt at the start of the school year, totaling just under $19,000. In St. Johns, about 12,000 students owed about $9,000.

    More than 6,000 students owed about $9,100 at the start of the school year in Duval County.

    Meyers believes, many students go to school every day hungry and their parents can't keep up with lunch payments That's why he was inspired to make a difference. And hopefully, inspire a few others along the way.

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    “If you champion something, and you really drive for it, a lot of people want to give. It's just a matter of knowing how,” said Meyers.

    For information on free and reduced lunch for each click the links below:

    Clay County: http://www.oneclay.net/food-services.html

    Duval County: https://dcps.duvalschools.org/Page/12095

    St. Johns County: http://www.stjohns.k12.fl.us/food/free

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