ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. – The Francis Howell School District starts the new school year with quite a nice surprise: A $21,000 donation to help the district erase student lunch debt balances.
One parent within the district, Scott Otey, recently led the effort to help students in need. Earlier this week, he dropped off a $21,000 check to the district’s finance director. Otey tells FOX 2 he recently teamed up with parents in a friendly gesture to raise money and support students.
“When there’s trust and transparency, a lot can get done. It’s something that society is lacking terribly, and I wanted to bring back some hope,” said Otey to FOX 2 about his inspiration behind the donation.
The Francis Howell School District provided Otey with a receipt and letter of acknowledgement for his donation, saying “it’s greatly appreciated” in the letter.
“We are kind of surprised by this,” said Jennifer Jolls, Chief Communications Officer for the Francis Howell School District. “I think it’s just a great example of a parent wanting to do good who saw a need in the community, organized the effort and got an amazing response.”
For the donation to be processed officially, the Francis Howell Board of Education will be asked to decide whether to accept it in a September board meeting. That said, the school district sees a need for help with school lunches in a post-pandemic school environment.
In a phone call Wednesday, Jolls told FOX 2 the federal government helped with providing meals for all students and covered various costs. That assistance ended last year, requiring students to pay for meals again, including those who traditionally apply for lunch benefits.
“We will be able to put these funds to great use and make sure students who have these negative account balances are brought current and enjoy the hot meals,” said Jolls.
For parents looking to further help the Francis Howell School District and students in need of lunch assistance, the lunch heroes program is another avenue through which donations are welcome.