Newton Public Schools Lunch Debt

$1,090 of $5,000 goal

Raised by 24 people in 2 months
The  Newton Public School District is amazing. Newton is a top-10 “Best Places to Live.”  So, we don’t realize that many struggle with food insecurity in our community.

9% of students in NPS are economically disadvantaged. In some of our grade schools, it's 20%.  

Every year the Newton Public School District runs about $10,000 in school lunch debt that taxes other programs. 50%  is held by grade school students, and 30% in the middle schools. For the second year, I’m raising funds to offset this debt. 

My target is $5000.  Our community can do this.

I’m also working with Project Bread and other school districts to craft a legislative solution in the state budget. But, while we wait, let’s solve our local problem.

Families who qualify for SNAP, the food assistance program, receive free or reduced price lunches. However, many families slip through the cracks and accrue debt because:

· They hesitate to apply
· They are unaware they qualify, or the paperwork is daunting 
·  They do send some lunches, but are (by regulation), charged for the milk or snack add-ons

Our district has taken a compassionate stance, ensuring all children get the same lunch, regardless of payment. We prioritize feeding our children - not burdening them with financials. In many schools, breakfast is served.

If you’re food insecure – or know someone who is:
Project Bread has compassionate help for families needing food assistance or help with SNAP applications

The Centre Street Food Pantry
has summer lunch programs for kids, as well as year-round support for families. Just call them at 617-340-9554 or email

The Newton Food Pantry
runs a summer food for families program that allows clients with children to visit twice monthly during July and August.

Your Frequently Asked Questions:

Does this debt include the unpaid debt of those who simply forgot/neglected to pay?  No. I’ve worked with the wonderful people in the school district to isolate the debt of those who are truly in need. They have processes for collecting the remainder with great success. 

Do our schools do anything to differentiate Free/Reduced/In-Debt students from the general population?  Thank goodness, no. There are still many “cheese sandwich” school districts in Massachusetts, and until recently, some children were even given a hand-stamp to indicate their category in some places.

Newton does nothing like that – all students are treated the same. Grade school students aren’t even asked about the balance in their accounts, as it would not be age appropriate.

How will the school district get the money?  Like last year, checks will be given for the entire amount directly to the school district, which will bring it to the committee meeting where the donation will be formally accepted. If you feel like watching hours of school committee meetings, there’s one last September when it happened, and the video is online.

What else can I do to help?  Forward this to friends! Post to Facebook! Raise awareness of this problem in other districts! And, email me - I welcome partners in this important community issue.

Also, join Project Bread's legislative action team at:

Is my donation tax-deductable?  Not this year. I've been working all year to find a financial  501(c)(3) umbrella for this effort, and have not yet been successful. If you or an organizationn you know can help, please reach out! 

What’s your deal? Why are you doing this? Candidly, once the 2016 election happened – and turned out differently than I might have hoped, I looked into ways I could take local action. I read about the debt in Arlington, and have been talking with the woman who leads their school food insecurity programs there (at a far more robust level – they organize donations and distribute summer lunches. It’s an exceptional program). I was motivated to start small, and found our 10K debt from last year. I had hoped to cover it all – but fell far short with only about $2K in donations. This year, I vow to do better. And, I’m working with the Arlington leadership and Project Bread to try to affect more systemic change, as well.

I’m not in Newton. How do I do this for my own district?  Email me! Please. We’d love to get more districts on board, as that will accelerate progress.
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$1,090 of $5,000 goal

Raised by 24 people in 2 months
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