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Donors Pays Off High School Lunch Debts In Alexandria

Patch logo Patch 1/14/2020 Emily Leayman
a man in a red uniform and holding a sign © Provided by Patch

ALEXANDRIA, VA — Students at Alexandria's T.C. Williams High School no longer have negative lunch balances thanks to a major donation. Jay and Arline Hoffman of the Hoffman Company paid off $18,500 in lunch debts, clearing all negative balances at T.C. Williams High School and the Minnie Howard Campus.

The school district says it will not refuse a meal to student, but that has caused debts to accrue. After the Hoffmans' donation, the lunch debts across the school system went from $60,000 to $41,500.

"The Hoffmans feel strongly that every child in Alexandria should be provided a free breakfast and lunch at school," said a spokesperson for the couple in a statement. "When the Hoffmans learned of the significant debt owed to the school related to student lunches, they wanted to relieve those students of the obligation."

According to ACPS, 56 percent of students in the school district qualify for free or reduced price meals. Free breakfast and lunch are provided to all students at Cora Kelly School for Math, Science and Technology and William Ramsay Elementary School. Free breakfast for all students is also offered at Ferdinand T. Day Elementary, James K. Polk Elementary, John Adams Elementary, Jefferson-Houston PreK-8 IB School, Patrick Henry K-8 School and Francis C. Hammond Middle School.

Arline Hoffman grew up in Alexandria and attended what was then George Washington High School. The Hoffmans also donated funds to give school uniforms to all William Ramsay Elementary School students. They hope other donors will come forward to tackle more of the school lunch debts.

"By donating to clear all negative balances on student lunch accounts for Titans in grades 9-12, they have helped to ensure all our students have access to high quality and nutritious food while in school," said T.C. Williams Principal Peter Balas. "Studies repeatedly show the importance of nutrition on academic success."

Proposed state legislation would address school lunch policies, according to WJLA. One bill would give low-income students leftover food. Another bill centers around preventing employees from forcing students to throw away a meal when they cannot pay.

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