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Local parents create GoFundMe account to pay off student lunch debt

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Affording lunch should be the last thing an elementary student thinks about, and one local fundraiser is trying to take that distraction off the minds of students.

"Just knowing that there’s a possibility that there are kids out there not being able to eat or maybe not understanding why they were getting an alternative lunch, it makes me sad to think about," said Stephan Noll, co-creator of the GoFundMe account for the FM School Lunch Debt.

It's an increasing problem for all schools in the metro, schools carrying thousands of dollars in negative balances when students can't afford to pay for lunch.

It's the reason four local parents created a GoFundMe page to help pay down lunch debt for elementary students.

“It just kinda spurs all of us to get interested in it and help out so there aren’t these young children getting a bad impression on how things are in life for nothing through no fault of their own,” Knoll added.

The total amount raised will be split evenly between Fargo, West Fargo, and Moorhead school districts, and distributed based on need for kindergarten through 6th-grade students.

Each district has different policies on giving alternative lunches when there's no money in a lunch account or capping a charge amount.

Food Service officials say they won’t deny a child a meal, but all those lunches add up and so do the charges.

"We always have a breakfast and a lunch for them, so if they hit that maximum amount of charging we'd do an alternate meal, but we'd never let them go hungry," said Food Service Director Dana Rieth.  Rieth does mention that Food Service does have between $500 and $1,000 in student debt at any given time.

The end goal of the GoFundMe campaign is $5 thousand, which would be enough to pay off over 2,000 lunches.

"Even if we don't reach the goal it's still definitely worth every bit of it that we're doing, but I would love to see it keep growing if it could," Knoll said.

So far,  more than 13-hundred dollars has been raised.

If you’d like to make a donation, click on the link to the GoFundMe page.