The program launched Thursday for kids in kindergarten through fifth grade in Fairfield Schools and is designed to help those who don’t qualify for the free-and-reduced lunch program.
Lunch It Forward is separate from the school’s free-and-reduced lunch program, but he said “we’re sort of helping out those kids as well, and to mitigate the use of the alternative lunch.” Fairfield’s alternative lunch is either a peanut butter or cheese sandwich, and it comes with a fruit and vegetable.
Fairfield Schools Director of Student Services Jeff Madden said it’s an exciting partnership in which Dougie and Ray’s “have committed to bridge the gap” for elementary students who do not have lunch money on their account and to ensure elementary students will receive a lunch.
“This is an example of the many positive relationships we have with individuals, organizations and businesses in our community. These partners have done so much for our schools, and for that, we are extremely grateful,” he said.
Last school year, Dougie and Ray’s paid off more than a dozen negative balance lunch accounts, McDaniel said.
According to the Ohio Department of Education, Fairfield Schools’ enrollment includes 43 percent of students who come from families who are poor enough to qualify for the federally funded free and reduced school meal program.
Fairfield Schools has the fourth-largest such percentage of such students in Butler County. Middletown and New Miami Schools have 100 percent of their students eligible for the school meal program, and Hamilton has 68 percent of its students eligible.
“This all basically started with an idea that I had, and found out there was a great need in Fairfield, as well as other cities in the Cincinnati area where this is an issue,” said Dougie and Ray’s board member Brittany Frey.
“It’s an easy problem to combat if we all come together.”