Local business on a mission to reduce school lunch debt in Virginia Beach

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A local business is pitching in to make sure there’s no such thing as “lunch shaming” in Virginia Beach Schools.

In 2018, 75 percent of districts across the country had unpaid meal debt, according to non-profit School Nutrition Association.

Employees at Altmeyer Funeral Homes and Crematory heard about the issue, realized it is happening in their city, and decided to do something about it.

“We understand that it is a really trying time right now for families that are going through these issues and we just want to show our support,” said Kaitlyn Williams, the outreach director for the business.

Williams and co-worker Joseph Limback went to their partner company “Celebrating Life’s Treasured Memories,” which works similarly to GoFundMe, but without a platform fee.

They created this “No Lunch Shaming” fundraiser, hoping to help students in Virginia Beach.

“It takes the burden off of the parents that are busy trying to raise their families and it gives the kids the chance to succeed at a very crucial time of their life,” said funeral service manager Joseph Limback. “It’s important to note that Virginia Beach went out of their way to do a good thing for the families. They don’t stigmatize it like in other parts of the country, but that doesn’t mean that the need isn’t still there.”

Virginia Beach Public Schools is currently looking at about $126,000 in lunch debt. A spokeswoman says that number constantly changes, but has gone down over the years. They do provide meals for all children regardless of any incurred lunch debt.

Williams and Limback reached out to the school division to see where the need is greatest. They plan to divide what they collect among 10 schools in the city. They hope members of the community will donate.

“You know we all go through challenges and struggles, but once again we wanted to show them that we are here to help no matter what,” Williams said.

Virginia Beach Schools and the Virginia Beach Education Foundation are also holding a “Beach Bagsfundraiser on Thursday to help students in the city.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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