As week four of the partial government shutdown approaches, school systems in the D.C. region are turning to their communities to help children of furloughed federal workers.
On Thursday, Monica E. Goldson, interim chief executive of the Prince George’s County school system in Maryland, announced the creation of a charitable fund to raise money to provide meals for children affected by the shutdown. Earlier this week, the school system said it would expedite applications for free and reduced lunches for families who temporarily qualify for the benefit. Raven Hill, a school system spokeswoman, said budgetary constraints prevented Prince George’s County from “funding the meals indefinitely.”
The school system received numerous offers for outside aid, Hill said. It decided to create the 10,000 Meals Challenge fund, established through the nonprofit Excellence in Education Foundation for the district, to collect money from businesses and community members.
The fund has raised $15,000 so far, which will pay for more than 5,000 student meals.
“While the shutdown may have sparked this conversation, the reality is that school meal debt remains a challenge for students, families and schools,” Goldson said in the announcement. Daily school breakfasts cost $1.60; school lunches run between $2.75 and $3 a day.
Other schools systems have extended resources to affected families. Falls Church City Public Schools in Virginia announced Thursday it will expedite free and reduced lunch applications for students and offer flexible payment deadlines for tuition and day care payments. Arlington Public Schools and Fairfax County Public Schools offered reduced activity fees for families affected by the shutdown and reminded families of available resources, including counseling and school lunch programs.