Local Bands Aim To Pay Off Fargo Public Schools Student Lunch Debt

the district has accrued over $26,000 just in 2019

FARGO, N.D. — The power of a good voice and some strong beats goes well beyond their sound.

“Music has affected change in society for years and so it seemed like a natural thing,” said Jason Boynton.

What seemed very unnatural to Boynton and his friends was the $26,000 in student lunch debt at Fargo Public Schools.

It’s why they’re now trying to pay it off with a benefit concert “Lunch Aid: Fargo Bands for School Kids” featuring ten local bands.

“I thought it was unacceptable that students were being turned over to collections for school lunch debts. It seems natural that students should be able to eat lunch,” Boynton said.

The district’s policy states that students and their families must be notified when their balance is below $10 and $30.

When it reaches below $60, the policy states the debt will go to a collection agency and “neglect to provide funding for meals may go to Social Services.”

Superintendent Rupak Gandhi says the money from the concert will go to those students’ lunch debt before a collection agency can pick it up.

“If we know that we have a fundraising source coming in to cover student lunch debt, then we would apply that to the lunch debt before we had to take any other measure,” Gandhi said.

Gandhi says the district also lets families know when their kids are eligible for the free or reduced lunch program.

He says Fargo Public Schools has so much debt because it got rid of alternative meals, which did receive federal funding, several years ago.

“We wanted to make sure at Fargo Public Schools that all of our students have the same meal across the board. By making sure that all students are served the same meal, every one of those meals is tracked and that adds to the student’s debt,” Gandhi said.

But for some of these band members, the debt hits a little closer to home.

“We both actually come from a family of educators so education is dear to our heart a little bit. It’s all about the kids. There’s no reason for them to have any problems or troubles or anything like that,” said Ryan Tetzloff, with the “Coffee Club” band.

It’s why they’ll keep on playing until there is no more.

So far, over $11–thousand has been raised to pay off the debt.

If you’d like to donate, click here.

Categories: Community, Local News, North Dakota News