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Local woman strives to pay off county lunch room debt
Andrea Elzey, right, started a campaign to help pay off students lunch debts. She is shown here with her daughter.

A woman in Forsyth County is on a crusade to end debt.

But not just any type of debt you’d pick up on a credit card or with student loans, Andrea Elzey is on a crusade to end the lunchroom debt that accrues when a student isn’t able to pay for their lunch at school.

Over the last week Elzey and a host of donors from Facebook managed to raise more than $2,000 to go towards the outstanding debt on $4,184 from the 37 Forsyth County Schools.

"Kids end up with a cheese sandwich or a cold peanut butter sandwich because they don't have money, kids notice that ... it kind of makes them a target, and that's what I don't like," Elzey said.

Elzey said that it all started when she heard about a close friend in Texas who was trying out a similar program at schools there. She said that she threw out the idea on a popular Facebook group, Focus on Forsyth, and immediately got an overwhelmingly positive response from the community.

“I was just trying to bring to light what’s going on with our children,” she said.

She said that after talking to each of the schools, she was able to provide interested donors with a donation sheet that could be taken into any of the schools, or mailed in.

“Right now we are at right about $2,400 in less than three days. I was blown away … but we still need approximately $1,100 to cover the remaining schools,” she said.

Elzey also said that they want to inform people that each school has a house account, that according to her any child can use.

“I would encourage people to fill the house account, so kids can use it in the future,” she said.

According to Jennifer Caracciolo, director of communications for Forsyth County Schools, this type of lunchroom debt occurs when a student, who doesn’t qualify for free or reduced lunch, gets a negative balance in their account for a number of other reasons.

She said that even if students accounts go negative, they still receive a “courtesy” lunch from the school.

“Annually as we wind down the school year, we are fortunate to have extremely generous and thoughtful community members donate funds to schools to cover student lunch charges. We do not, at any time, share individual student account information. Our employees are unable to solicit program donations, so we greatly appreciate the support,” Caracciolo said.