Friday, May 26, 2017

A Cause Close To My Heart

Whenever people ask me where I'm from in Ohio, I tell them the middle.

That's because you've heard of where I'm from, and if you have it's because you know someone from there, and chances are I know them too. They're probably my cousin.

I love being from a small town. I love where I'm from, and I stay here for that reason. I wrote about rural poverty in THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES and will be revisiting that theme in future books, with good reason. My county is poor, my school district is poor, and many of the families living here are poor.

I've been lucky in my career and am looking for ways to give back. With school lunch fees in the news lately, I decided this would be a good avenue.

Cardington Public Schools- where I graduated from and worked at for 15 years - allows the children to have an alternative lunch (PB & J, juice, fruit or vegetable & a milk) after accruing $25 in charges. Children do not go unfed.

However,  fees do follow the children throughout their school careers, often accumulating into an unsurmountable debt for struggling families.

My community has supported me unfailingly throughout my writing career, so I contacted the school to see if I could assist in paying some of these fees at the end of the year. Another community member had felt similarly, and the fees at the Elementary had already been covered.

This leaves the 5th graders through high schoolers, whose debt was much more than I expected. 

Often when help is offered to schools the money, services or donations go to help the younger children - understandably. However, I'd like to wipe out the lunch debt of the entire district through this campaign.

Currently, 32% of the High Schoolers are on free or reduced lunch, 40% of the Junior High, 47% of the Intermediate, and 49% of the Elementary. 

We can help these families by alleviating  unpaid lunch fees and ensuring that all children receive hot meals at the beginning of next school year.