North Augusta goes above and beyond to help pay student school lunch debts

Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019
News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7

This Facebook post on the North Augusta 20/20 Facebook page may have launched a movement to help school districts pay for students' lunch debt. (Source: WRDW)

NORTH AUGUSTA, SC (WRDW/WAGT) -- The North Augusta community has come together to pay off all the lunch debt for students in public schools.

It all started when Elizabeth Owens challenged her two high school daughters to a few good deeds.

“You always do the mom text ‘have a great day,’” Owens said. “I kind of wanted to up the ante a little bit for them and wanted to tell them to help somebody else have a great day.”

She shared her messages to them in the North Augusta 20/20 Facebook page, and people began asking how they could help.

“My children would come home talking about children who didn't have lunch,” Owens said. “My husband and friends have talked about providing food for children who simply don't have enough. That seemed like an easy area for people to help.”

Owens contacted Aiken County and found that North Augusta High School alone has more than $1,000 in lunch debt.

“Some of this was carried over from last year,” Owens said. “It'd never been paid.”

So they're stepping up to pay it to keep students from feeling embarrassed.

“If you know that as a child you know that your family is getting more and more in debt because you're eating lunch at school, then you're going to be less likely to go up there and get the food because you don't want to be a burden on your family,” Owens said.

And those burdens can cause the kids to fall further into debt.

“There are also those families that are right on the cusp,” Owens said. “On paper they make too much money for free or reduced lunch, but in all honestly the family circumstances are still really tight.”

Together, they've raised more than $600 in just a few weeks. One person has pledged to donate $400 each month. It's a community Owens is proud to call home.

If you would like to donate, you can send a check or money order in an envelope to the attention of SFS to 1163 Ergle St. Graniteville, SC 29829.

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