Local church steps in to help pay lunch debt for neighboring school

Posted at 10:49 PM, Feb 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-26 23:49:59-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn (WTVF) — During the start of the year, Metro Nashville Public School Board Chair Anna Shepherd made a call to action. She asked the community to help out with the outstanding lunch debt balances for nearly 30 schools across the district.

Since then, there has been a several efforts from businesses, non-profits and private citizens to help.

From 2014 to 2018, Metro Schools qualified for a grant called Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) that made every lunch throughout our district free to all students.

However, because of a decline in the amount of families seeking family assistance, the entire district was no longer eligible to participate and did not have enough funding to continue the program. Twenty-nine schools are not eligible for this program and as a result, students are charged the cost of a meal unless they fill out and qualify for the free and reduced lunch program.

On January 15, MNPS posted a list of schools with outstanding balances over $200. The price exceeded $67,000.

The pricetag got the attention of the congregation at Woodmont Baptist Church. Minister of students Trey Hayman says the church already has a relationship with Hillsboro High school. Hayman teaches a class on Tuesdays for young men of faith.

"When we heard about the lunch debt it was a no brainier there, our neighbors, and our community and our friends so we wanted to help out," said Hayman, "By the grace of God, we did, we have a very generous church who loves to support our community."

In one Sunday, the church collected more than $8,500 to pay off the outstanding debt for Hillsboro High School.

"I never had a doubt because of God and because of our church and the love for God and our community that we wouldn’t hit that goal," said Hayman.

You can donate to individual schools by sending a check to the address listed on each school’s website with a note that funds are designated to retire student lunch debt for the school.