Pastor Lee May completed another step in his quest to pay off school lunch debts for DeKalb County’s youngest residents.
The DeKalb County Board of Education on Monday accepted a $5,000 donation from May’s Transforming Faith Church, where he’s lead pastor, toward outstanding lunch balances at eight DeKalb schools. The $5,000 goes toward current balances at Browns Mill, Idlewood, Marbut, Princeton, Rainbow, Rockbridge, Rock Chapel, and Wynbrooke elementary schools.
May, a former DeKalb County commissioner and longtime interim DeKalb CEO, made a donation of about $1,300 before Christmas to take care of school lunch balances at four schools — Fairington, Panola Way, Rainbow and Rock Chapel elementary schools.
Lunch balances accrue when students don’t pay for their lunch, or obtain items not included in their daily free-lunch allotment.
School District officials said about 70 percent of the district’s 102,000 students are eligible for a free or reduced-price lunch.
The donation was the second in a series of donations May said the church hopes to make toward eliminating the lunch tabs for the district’s elementary-school children. In December, when May issued a challenge to the community at large, a $26,000 balance existed for the district’s elementary schools.
May said previously that he and his wife have been flagged before for forgetting to pay balances for their own children, and know that students who can’t pay face ridicule from other students, as they receive alternative meals when the balances reach a particular threshold.
“We just pay it, because it’s not an issue for us, but there’s so many families out there who don’t qualify for the free or reduced lunch, but financially it’s still a challenge and a burden over them,” May said in January. “When your bill gets a certain amount, you get a different meal — grilled cheese, peanut butter and jelly — and all the other kids know when you’re eating that, you don’t have any money.”