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Unlikely donor pays-off school’s outstanding lunch balance

            The element of surprise is high during the holiday season, including the tone in a Denton ISD school’s cafeteria and we’re are not referring to the offering of “mystery” meat. A “secret” Santa, has magically paid off all of an entire campus’ outstanding lunch balance.

 

            “A friend shared with me that when he was in middle school, his family didn’t have the 40 cents a day he needed to purchase lunch and it was embarrassing – this is a grown man crying at the thought of the shame,” said Rodney “Rocky” Haire, local attorney. “It is still happening today – kids in our Denton ISD classrooms are hungry, they are trying to learn and this might be the best or only meal of their day.”

 

            While his initial thought was to remain anonymous, his own staff coaxed him to come forward, hoping other local business leaders might do the same. Of the 29,000 students in Denton ISD, 42 percent receive assistance through the federal government free/reduced lunch program, a program that covers only part of the cost of their lunch.

 

            The local personal injury lawyer whose infomercials highlight his brash, tough talk personality paid the entire campus’ deficit at Strickland Middle School – the overage the campus ‘floats’ all students who might have gone beyond the amount their parents have deposited in their lunch account.   

     

            “No child will be turned away, and we do not serve anyone a lesser lunch – none of the cheese sandwiches you hear about,” said Chris Bomburger, the district’s director of child nutrition. “And, while we make every attempt to work with local families for everyone to pay something, some of our families just simply don’t have the funds – especially now.”

 

            At mid-school year, the entire deficit balance for the district is $11,392.02, with some school’s owing as little as $13.45 while others owe almost $1,800.

 

            “If I have the ability to remove one simple ‘stresser’ from a middle school kid’s life like bothering their mom – who’s probably working two jobs, I might add – to keep their lunch account current. I will be the first person in line,” said Mr. Haire. “That’s all the thanks I need.”

 

            To inquire how you can help pay down your local school’s lunch debt, please contact Beverly Martin, Denton ISD Child Nutrition Accountant, by calling (940) 369-0275 or email her at bmartin2@dentonisd.org.