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(back row l to r) Assistant Superintendent Mark Deebach, Superfeet Operations Manager Johnathan Koncz, Director of Human Resources Annie Howard and Talent Development & Acquisition Specialist Jeff Ritter and Central Elementary School Principal Georgia Dellinger. (front row l to r) Central Elementary School Cooks Jennifer LaVeille and Martha Torres (March 26, 2018). Photo courtesy of Ferndale School District

Local company’s donation reduces School District unpaid student meals debt

Superfeet, a Ferndale-based foot products manufacturer, recently made an $8,667.15 donation to the Ferndale School District on behalf of Superfeet employees to eliminate 100% of the unpaid student meals debt balance at Central Elementary School according to a recent District announcement.

Past contributions from Superfeet include new physical education equipment and financial support for grade five educational field trips to Camp Killoqua according to the District announcement.

[The] company recently surprised the district by settling the large balance of unpaid lunch debt at Central Elementary School. These funds were donated directly from Superfeet’s employee-owners, who generously contribute their own dollars each year to support families in our community.

School meal debt has become an increasing problem for school districts across the country according to an article published by Education Times last year and the Ferndale School District is no different with a total of $50,000 still on the books after the donation.

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The following information provided by the District shows the current amount of school meal debt accumulated at each school.

Cascadia Elementary School $2,176.93
Central Elementary School $0.00
Custer Elementary School $2,666.58
Eagleridge Elementary School $9,936.16
Ferndale High School $11,185.47
Horizon Middle School $8,126.90
Skyline Elementary School $7,533.07
Vista Middle School $8,242.14
Windward High School $133.14

 

According to the Ferndale School District website, the District implemented a new meal charge policy at the beginning of the current school year which requires all students to pay in advance or pay as they go to purchase meals.

Assistant Superintendent Mark Deebach told Discover Ferndale, “The ‘no credit’ policy unfortunately does not mean that [current] balances are all from last year and not growing. We don’t take food away from the students and are still feeding students that don’t have any money on their account,” he said in an email. “The policy change has worked to help create greater awareness and letting people know about their negative balances sooner (before they get too large).”

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The Ferndale School District participates in the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program and the USDA Food Distribution Program.

Per meal costs at Ferndale schools are reported as follows

Grade Level Regular Breakfast Regular Lunch Reduced-Price Breakfast Reduced-Price Lunch
K-5 $1.50 $2.75 $0.00 $0.00
4-5 $1.50 $2.75 $0.00 $0.40
6-8 $1.75 $3.25 $0.00 $0.40
9-12 $1.75 $3.25 $0.00 $0.40

 

“One of the big disconnects is that people don’t realize they need to fill out a new application every school year,” Deebach pointed out. “Every September you need to fill out a new application or your benefits will end. After that you begin accumulating a negative balance that isn’t retroactively paid for once your new application is approved. That negative stays on the books as outstanding debt.”

 

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