By Makenzie O'Keefe

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Lunch debt is a growing issue that impacts school districts across the state. While no student will ever be denied a meal at school because of financial situations, debt can quickly grow.

(credit: CBS)

One Jefferson County Public Schools graduate has now come up with a unique way to help the families with overdrawn lunch accounts.

“We started with $1,000 goal, raised it to $3,600 and then $4,000,” explained Garrett Hurlbut, organizer of the fundraising effort. “We’ve exceeded that now.”

(credit: CBS)

Jeffco Public Schools says in a one year span, lunch debt has more than tripled. Officials said that means families aren’t paying on their accounts. Right now, the district’s overall lunch debt is around $137,000.

“Growing up, my family needed some resources, and we were able to lean on some members in the community several times through our upbringing,” Hurlbut said.

Now, he wants to return the favor. He recently launched an online fundraiser called The Lunch Balance Relief Project.

Garrett Hurlbut (credit: CBS)

“We’re on a mission to raise as much money as possible to alleviate the overdue balances at local schools in our district,” Hurlbut said. “We’ll tackle the schools with the most debt first.”

His hope is to reduce the debt families are facing before the holidays, so students have a clean slate in the upcoming semester.

“It’s not really the kids’ problems, dealing with the social consequences of an issue that’s related to the family and their financial situation,” he explained. “So we just want to help with that and carry that weight.

(credit: CBS)

In a week, Hurlbut said he’s received enough donations to cover the debt at about seven Jeffco schools. He hopes the community continues to rally behind his effort to help even more families in need.

The Lunch Balance Relief Project is not sponsored by Jeffco schools, but is instead an effort by a local man to do some good during the holiday season.

LINK: Lunch Balance Relief Project

Makenzie O'Keefe

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