A church based in Austin, Texas, is giving back to its community by paying off over $20,000 worth of student lunch debt and helping to provide school meals to underprivileged kids.
As reported by CBN News, Covenant Presbyterian Church in Austin, Texas, will pay $24,000 to Austin Independent School District (AISD) to pay off student lunch debt accumulated during the 2022-23 school year. It will also cover all lunch debt for the rest of the year.
"Our hope is we fill a gap that other folks haven't been able to fill, that kids have one less thing to be concerned about," Whitney Bell, the church's mission director, wrote on the church's blog.
"We hope Covenant shows our school district that we love and care for all students, especially the kids stuck in the middle who can't afford lunch but may not qualify for free or reduced lunch," she added.
"The district basically has a GoFundMe page because they want to be able to continue to feed these kids," Bell explained, noting that the school district has done well in providing lunches to students who cannot afford to buy them.
When students lack the money, elemntary and junior high students can charge up to three meals. High school students can charge up to two meals. Once a student reaches their limit, the school district will provide courtesy lunches even if the student does not have the funds to pay for them.
Roughly $14,000 of the $24,000 donation will erase all AISD lunch debt, while $10,000 will be earmarked for future debt.
KXAN-TV reports that the church uses the funds annually for missional giving. In 2022, they gave $24,000 to help pay off medical debt and combat homelessness in central Texas.
"A family of four bringing in a total of $50,000 a year doesn't qualify for lunch at a reduced cost," Bell said. "This is a huge gap … especially considering the cost of living in Austin. The majority of kids accruing debt are from poor working families."
According to AISD's website, they serve over 60,000 meals each day.
"The idea that a child could be prevented from fully participating in their school because of debt they accrue when eating lunch ought to disturb us," Senior Pastor Thomas Daniel said. "I am proud we are stepping up to fill this gap."
"The fact that this is a gift given to every student who qualifies – no strings attached – embodies the free and unmerited grace we have all received and is the foundation of our Christian faith," he added.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Halfpoint
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.