Funds will be returned after City Schools of Decatur declines lunch debt donations

Although an online campaign raised more than $85,000 in less than 48-hours to wipe out lunch debts for City Schools of Decatur, the organizer of the GoFundMe said refunds will be issued after the school district declined the donation.

The update came on Jan. 25, less than two days after Jasmine Crowe-Houston, parent with a child who attends a City Schools of Decatur (CSD) school, launched the fundraiser.

“Thanks to the incredible outpouring of love and support, I achieved my fundraising goal,” said Crowe-Houston. “However, I was informed (on Jan. 25) that a corporate foundation has cleared the school lunch debt for the City Schools of Decatur district. While I did offer to still provide the donation to set up a reserve nutrition fund for future meal balances, my donation was declined. In light of this, I am working with GoFundMe, and we will refund all contributions and have closed the GoFundMe to avoid further donations.”

Crowe-Houston said that she was inspired to start a GoFundMe campaign – titled Ensure Every Child Eats at City Schools of Decatur – after seeing a tweet from Decaturish about CSD’s plans to give students a cheese sandwich and milk if they miss three payments.

On Jan. 25, officials with CSD released a statement confirming that a “corporate foundation” had paid the debt in full.

“We are delighted to confirm the $88k lunch debt has been eliminated thanks to the generosity of a corporate foundation grant. All past balances have been forgiven,” CSD’s statement reads, in part. “CSD has less than a 10 percent poverty rate, and eligible families continue to receive regular meals through the National Lunch Program. We have also finalized agreements with organizations to provide additional assistance to individual families experiencing financial hardships.”

Officials with CSD also added that the district “remains committed to providing healthy meal options for all students while working diligently to proactively prevent future debt reoccurrences.”

For her part, Crowe-Houston said she has gained insights from the experience to continue to inspire her to actively work towards preventing what she called “meal shaming” at schools.

“I can’t thank everyone enough for elevating this issue,” said Crowe-Houston. “Meal shaming is never an acceptable way of tackling the issue of childhood hunger and thanks to the awareness generated by community-driven kindness, that has been prevented here. I am happy to know the balance for the students has been cleared and that students will not receive an alternative lunch of a cheese sandwich and milk.”

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