BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – Kate Lacroix hadn’t even had her morning cup of coffee yet when she came up with the idea to ask people to give up their coffee for a day too.
“I have some good news, and I have some bad news. The bad news is you’re not going to get your cup of coffee today, and the good news is, you’re going to be a hero,” said Lacroix.
After seeing someone else eliminate all the layaway debt at a store, Lacroix got the idea to do the same for the Boulder Valley School District lunch program. She just didn’t know how much it was.
“It’s $232,000. And I thought, ‘Great, I’ve got my holiday giving campaign,’” she said.
She made a Facebook post and quickly friends started chipping in $4 at a time. Some contributed much more. Lucky’s Market is matching whatever is raised.
“It’s a big deal to feel like you can’t provide for your child in even this simplest way because you had to pay a utility bill. It will make all the difference in the world for a kid going to school, who needs to be able to eat lunch,” said Kate Hise, who donated to the campaign.
Hise knows what it’s like to have a debt for school lunches. Fifteen years ago, before rule changes allowed kids to get fed whether they had money or not, Hise’s son would go hungry at school.
“My son came home a few times talking about how he didn’t have enough money in his lunch account, and he couldn’t get lunch, and it struck me as wrong. For him not to have food was really a difficult thing for me as a parent,” Hise said.
Then one day, someone helped her out when she was in need.
“Somebody had put in $100 anonymously, and it was enough to get him through the rest of the school year. And for me, the impact of that was huge! For me, to feel like there was somebody out there who cared. Somebody who was watching out for us, even in this small way, really made a great impact on me,” she said.
Both Hise and Lacroix say the huge debt for BVSD shows the difference between how people perceive Boulder County and what the reality is. Many families struggle to make ends meet, but don’t qualify for financial assistance. Most school districts cover the unpaid lunch debt at the end of the year from the general fund.
“That means that all the funding in the classroom is just slightly less. So anything that people can do counts. It will make all the difference in the world for a kid going to school, who needs to be able to eat lunch,” Hise said.
“I feel like I have made an impact. It’s hard knowing we have so far to go, but that’s why I’m really hoping to spread the word. I don’t get dissuaded easily,” Lacroix said.