Colonial School District students and staff make a difference in the community every day. Through group or individual fund raising efforts, Colonial has raised more than $100,000 this year for various local charities, organizations and disadvantaged individuals. Now, the District is turning to the community to help its students in need.
Colonial Helping Others Without (CHOW) is a new program created by the District's Food Services Department to help pay the cost of school meals for those who cannot afford them.
"In regards to state and federal funding, Colonial is considered a wealthier school district according to income standards. Consequently, we are largely dependent on local revenue for our budget," said Director of Food Services Lori McCoy. "But about 30 percent of the families in our community do not have the financial means to pay for school lunches every day."
Mrs. McCoy noted that approximately 1,000 of Colonial's more than 5,000 students qualify for the Federal Free or Reduced Lunch Program, but there are many more whose families fall on the fringe of that program or have simply fallen on hard times.
"It is no secret that adequate and proper nutrition is an essential component to the learning environment and positively contributes to the health of each student. Also, healthy students are better prepared to learn," said Mrs. McCoy, who is a Registered Dietician and a School Nutrition Specialist. "We are committed to providing healthy, nutritious meals to every student every day."
But that comes at a cost. Student lunch accounts had a deficit of more than $40,000 last year and that figure continues to rise.
"Our community has a history of helping each other, so we turned to the Community to help fund student lunches," said Mrs. McCoy.
The Conshohocken Kiwanis Club was the first to answer the call. When the Kiwanis learned the District was looking for help to feed hungry kids, they were immediately on board. The Club's Mardi Gras event raised $3,200 for CHOW.
"We are thankful that the Kiwanis have embraced this program and hope to make it an annual event," said Mrs. McCoy. "Our hope is that other organizations and individuals will help join this effort."
Those interested in supporting CHOW may send cash or checks to the Colonial School District Food Services Fund at the Food Service Administrative Offices, 4118 Franklin Way, Lafayette Hill, PA 19444. Parents who wish to contribute to CHOW and have positive account balances in their child's lunch account may donate all or a portion of that excess balance simply by contacting Sarah Fries in the Food Services Department by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
To ensure funds are shared equitably between students and schools, a list of students who meet the criteria for consideration will be developed by May 1 of each year. Then a committee of school guidance counselors, building principals and pupil services administrators will determine which students may receive funding on a case-by-case basis.
"Our goal is to help as many students as we can," said Mrs. McCoy.