Anonymous donor gives $10,000 toward lunch debts at Maine school district

An anonymous donor sent a $10,000 to a Maine school district to help eliminate families’ unpaid lunch debt, The Press Herald reports.

Westbrook Superintendent Peter Lancia was being interviewed about student lunch debt on a local TV station when he received an email alerting him to the donation.

The donor, who wished to remain anonymous, said they wanted to help families’ unpaid accounts and later sent a $10,000 check to Lancia’s office.

“I’m not speechless often, and it was one of those moments,” Lancia told the newspaper in Portland, Maine.

The donation eliminated more than half of the $17,000 owed to the school district for student lunches.

Lancia told The Press Herald that number is high but is comparable to other school years.

Lunch at the elementary and middle schools cost $2.30, so the donation will help settle more than 4,300 meals.

Sometimes the school district provides the only stable, guaranteed meal for a child, the superintendent said.

“We have a lot of people who are living paycheck to paycheck, and they may not be able to make every end meet,” Lancia said.

The school district isn’t sure how they will divide the donation up between individual accounts, he told the newspaper.

“We want children to eat,” Lancia said. “We feed kids, and we settle the bills with parents later.”

Veronica Bates, a member of the Westbrook School Committee and chairperson of its finance committee, said when she first heard about the donation, she assumed it was a mistake.

“Every time I say it, I get goosebumps,” she said. “I cannot express my gratitude enough.”