725 student meal accounts across Fremont County paid off this week

County 10 Photo - September 16th check presentation

(Lander, WY) – $10,120 was donated to Fremont County School Districts on September 16th to pay off current student meal debts. Financial support came from the Wyoming Hunger Initiative (WHI), Atlantic City Federal Credit Union (ACFCU), and a private donation from the Starks family of Dubois.

725 individual student accounts had balances and were paid off from 5 Fremont County School Districts including: #1 Lander (320), #2 Dubois (2), #6 Wind River (10), #24 Shoshoni (11), and #25 Riverton (382).

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Wyoming’s First Lady Jennie Gordon along with Dan and Cynthia Starks, ACFCU President Brian Rohrbacher, and board members Charlie Krebs, Jullie Shull, Bonnie Hildner, and Mike Jones presented checks to the food service directors in attendance from FCSD #1 and #25, Alicia Espinosa and Jane Stanfield, respectively.

Half of the over $10,000 was donated by the Starks, who own several businesses in Dubois including the National Museum of Military Vehicles and Nana’s Bakery & Bowling. The remaining half was paid for through a partnership between WHI and ACFCU.

We consider ourselves very privileged to be part of the Wyoming community and it’s really our pleasure to do our small part to help with the First Lady’s Hunger Initiative, Dan shared. The idea that people don’t have enough to eat is really just unacceptable.

He also praised the First Lady for making it easy to make a contribution to the WHI and the peace of mind knowing that the funds are going to those in need.

The WHI is committed to addressing key issues on the state level that would support ongoing efforts to make sure that no child goes hungry. School lunch debt falls under that purview.

75% of school districts have reported lunch debt and 40% say their debt is growing. Prior to Wyoming Angel Accounts, there was no ongoing work related to solving the school lunch debt crisis in the state.

During the 2019-2020 school year, Wyoming had a combined total of $281,716 of school lunch debt, according to the WHI. Some districts still choose to feed all students the same meal regardless of their lunch account balance which only leads to more debt.

For the second year, the USDA will provide free breakfast and lunch to all students thus making it the perfect year to alleviate all school lunch debt across the state. WHI offers a plan that will assist local school districts in alleviating the school lunch debt while maintaining an environment where students are not singled out because of a situation out of their control.

Instead of utilizing a “Band-aid” approach, they hope to create a sustainable solution that encourages the partnership of key stakeholders including parents or guardians. This plan includes a commitment from both the family and the school district to alleviate debt.

“Donors such as the Ellbogen Foundation have made Wyoming Angel Accounts possible,” First Lady Jennie Gordon’s office shared.

“We are proud to partner with Fremont County school districts to remove the child from the equation and help alleviate school meal debt across the state of Wyoming.”

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