Collegiate United Methodist Church and Wesley Foundation Raises $48,950 to Pay Off Meal Debt at Ames Community School District

January 28, 2020
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Press release from Collegiate United Methodist Church and Wesley Foundation

AMES, IA

Collegiate United Methodist Church and Wesley Foundation is excited to announce that, due to the generosity of its members and the wider community, $48,950 was raised last month to help pay down the school meal debt at Ames Community School District (ACSD). The church donated the $48,950 to ACSD to help fight food insecurity in Ames and support all students in the district. An estimated 575 Ames families’ school meal debt balances will be eliminated due to this donation.

The church formally presented the donation to the ACSD School Board during its January 27 meeting.

“We were elated to hit our goal; to be honest, we were a bit unsure if it was even possible to raise such a large sum. I think doing so is a testament to the power of community,” said Jodi Risdal, Chair of the Sending to Serve committee at Collegiate United Methodist Church and Wesley Foundation, the group behind the campaign. The church raised funds throughout the month of December as their 2019 advent offering to help Ames families in a tangible way.

Although the USDA spends more than $24 billion each year on child nutrition programs, it prohibits schools from using federal funds to pay off meal debts, and like 75 percent of school districts in the United States, ACSD has unpaid meal debt. While Iowa schools are prohibited from singling out or shaming students with unpaid accounts, families’ inability to pay for school meals is becoming an increasing problem. Each summer, ACSD sends all uncollected school meal balances over $100 to collections. In mid-November 2019, there were 575 ACSD students with negative meal balances. By the end of December the total had reached over $53,000.

The community is invited to attend a celebration that is planned during church services on February 2. Services are at 8:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m., and a reception will be held between.

“We don’t expect to ever know the full impact that this has on individual families here in Ames, but our hope is at the very least they feel like they’re loved, they’re cared about by the whole community and that maybe this makes a way forward where there wasn’t before,” Collegiate United Methodist Church Associate Pastor and Wesley Foundation Campus Pastor Reverend Jen Hibben said. “I think for the larger community too, it has the potential to help remind us of the power of community, of what we can do when we come together.”

For more information, visit cwames.org or facebook.com/cwames or call 515-292-6936.

About Collegiate United Methodist Church and Wesley Foundation: The purpose of Collegiate/Wesley is to build an inclusive community that invites all people to experience God’s unconditional love, grow in faith, and serve others.