Campaign raises money to pay off school lunch debt
Lunch rooms in the Eau Claire Area School District are busy places.
Serving around 6,500 meals a day to the more than 11,000 students.
"When kids are thinking about where their next meals going to come from, they're not focusing on what they need to be learning and they're not focusing on school," said ECASD Director of Food and Nutrition Joshua Guckenberg.
But those meals don't come free.
For a middle schooler in the district, breakfast and lunch costs $4 a day.
"We want to make sure that the kids get fed. We understand that it's not their fault or problem dealing with their financials of the family, so we allow them the same meals and food access that any other student gets no matter what," explains Guckenberg. "It's just on the back end that balance is going negative or growing."
That's where Tony Liedl wanted to help.
Last month, he started a GoFundMe to help erase the negative balance throughout the district.
"I reached out initially before starting it, seeing if anybody would be interested in doing a fundraiser like this and the response was pretty overwhelming," Liedl.
As of Wednesday morning, the district was owed $2,900 for the meals they've served.
So far, the GoFundMe has raised nearly half that amount.
For Liedl, it's been a simple way to attack what he sees as a growing problem.
"The school district was just kind of an idea but I'm more aware of hunger in general. Working at my last job I got to work with a lot of non-profits so then I became aware of food insecurity and becoming more aware of the in our area," he said.
But for the district, the simple idea has a much deeper impact.
"The fact that there are people out there like Tony, who start these campaigns or even donate out of their own pockets individually, says a lot about the community we live in," said Guckenberg.
The GoFundMe campaign will stay open until Feb. 14, and then all the money raised will be presented to the school district on Feb. 28
To donate to the campaign