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Bozeman School District sees more students with lunch debt, officials now looking to ease debt

Posted at 6:47 PM, Dec 18, 2023

BOZEMAN — While a couple of bucks for much may not seem like a lot, add in the high cost of living and lunch 5 days a week, and things can really add up for parents. Bozeman School District officials are trying to find ways to pay off student’s lunch debt so they don’t go hungry.

“It's surprising compared to where we used to be. We have a lot of families that do not qualify per the national guidelines for meal benefits, but they're still struggling to make ends meet in Bozeman,” says Brittany Selvig, Bozeman School District, Food Services Director.

More families with students in Bozeman Schools are seeing school lunch debt add up and there's is no way for the district to help those families cover the cost.

Bozeman School District sees more students with lunch debt, officials now looking to ease debt

“It's become a big problem there. There isn't funding for negative accounts. So that is that the district has to take on and figure out how to cover.” says Selvig. “It is something where there isn't funding from the federal government or from the state government to assist with negative meal accounts.”

Right now, lunch in a Bozeman school costs anywhere from $3 to $5 for students who do not qualify for free and reduced lunch, the school district only gets about 50 cents to cover the costs. That's compared to the $4 per meal the district receives for students on free and reduced lunch.

“We receive funding from the National School Lunch program per meal,” says Selvig.

So, the school district has asked the Bozeman Schools Foundation to raise money to help cover those costs.

Jenn Lammers, the Executive Director of the Bozeman School's Foundation, says with the rapid increase in school lunch debt, they're hoping to raise $18,000.

“There had been even an existing surplus of donated funds to apply, and we went through that at the end of last year,” says Lammers.

“We have really reactivated our hungry and homeless student fund and will be raising money throughout the year that money is then accessed when we have students in need,” says Lammers.

The Bozeman School's Foundation says First Interstate Bank donated $4,000 to the dollar goal .

If you would like to help by their January 3 deadline, you can visit the website below.


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