Austin writer inspires strangers to pay off school lunch balances

SAN ANTONIO – In communities across the country, children go to school and struggle to pay for their lunch. 

But no child will go to school hungry so long as there are generous people to help make sure children are fed, like what happened in Austin this week.

Ashley C. Ford, a writer with digital outlet Refinery29, tweeted out a simple message: "A cool thing you can do today is try to find our which of your local schools have kids with overdue lunch accounts and pay them off."

That inspired Addie Broyles, a writer with the Austin American-Statesman's food and entertainment website "Austin360," to find out how Austinites could do just that. 

In her piece, Broyles reported that the Austin Independent School District serves lunch to kids who are running a deficit when it comes to their accounts. Nearly 80,000 meals are served each day through AISD.

About 700 of those are courtesy meals because so many students have accounts in the negative or are on free lunch programs. This leaves the district $300,000 in the hole. Their goal was to raise $10,000.

Within 24 hours of her blog hitting the internet, that goal was made by complete strangers. When Broyles wrote her follow-up piece the next day, it was more than $13,000.

How to do this in San Antonio

We reached out to the city's three biggest school districts to see how you can do the same thing. Here is what they said: 

Northside ISD: As of the end of March, NISD had an outstanding balance of about $30,000. The Child Nutrition Department said this is quite small, considering it is a district of about 105,000. People can call the Child Nutrition Department directly if you want to help pay off balances at 210-397-4501.

Northeast ISD: Right now, the district has about 7,800 past due balances. A spokesperson said anyone who wants to donate can contact the Child Nutrition Office at 210-356-9116.

SAISD: We are waiting to hear back.

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