CLAREMONT — An anonymous donor is picking up the tab for school lunches in Claremont after the school board briefly considered hiring a collection agency.
Assistant Superintendent Cory LeCair said Wednesday that the donor’s attorney approached the district after seeing media reports about the approximate $33,000 lunch debt owed by hundreds of families in the district.
“When there’s a need, the community rises up,” LeClair said.
The donor won’t have to pay the whole bill, after more than 100 people in the Claremont community contributed to the debts. People sent donations ranging from $10 to $100 directly to the district, while City Councilor Nicholas Koloski raised $3,025 through an online fundraiser.
Koloski said people coming together to help out those in need is typical for the region. Koloski volunteers his time, and donates to people in need through his business, Time-Out Americana Grill. He said the Claremont community always responds when he asks for help for people.
“I’ll be damned if I don’t receive an abundance,” Koloski said.
LeClair said the district has made changes to the way it handles school lunch bills to avoid debt in the future. The school will monitor the debts and work with families who are struggling, she said.
As a policy, the district will not turn away any student from the lunches offered at school, even if they cannot pay at the time. Koloski has said some families who are struggling are too proud to sign up for the free and reduced lunch program. There are also reports that children from families who are not financially struggling have been known to take a lunch without thinking about the financial consequences.
The donor is asking to remain anonymous, and LeClair said the donor’s attorney won’t even say if the donor lives in the Claremont community or not.