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Wyoming fundraising to erase school lunch debt in state


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CHEYENNE, Wyoming (AP) — More than 3,000 Wyoming youngsters will have their school lunch debt forgiven through a fundraising effort coordinated by First Lady Jennie Gordon and others.

The effort raised almost $99,500 to forgive unpaid school lunch money owed by 3,224 schoolchildren in Wyoming, Gordon’s office announced Wednesday.

“This partnership ensures that our schoolchildren and their families will have one less thing to worry about in the future and can focus on learning,” Gordon said in a statement.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which runs the National School Lunch Program, has been covering school lunch costs for all students during the COVID-19 pandemic. The money raised will cover unpaid lunch money in Wyoming from before the pandemic.

Debt to be covered in 28 of Wyoming’s 48 school districts ranges from less than $1 to over $11,800 in Sheridan County School District No. 2 and $46,600 in Albany County School District No. 1.

Gordon’s Wyoming Hunger Initiative worked with the Mountain West Credit Union Foundation and a Dubois couple to raise much of the money.

The foundation, through credit unions around Wyoming, raised $40,000. National Military Vehicle Museum founder Dan Starks and his wife Cynthia, of Dubois, matched that amount.

Other donations came from the Ellbogen Foundation and individuals including Gov. Mark Gordon.