An anonymous donor has paid off more than half of a Maine school district's student lunch debts.
Westbrook Superintendent Peter Lancia said he received a check from the anonymous donor Monday for $10,000, which would erase more than half of the $17,000 owed by families in the district for student lunches.
"I was speechless," said Lancia. "I really had to look twice, three times, at the amount."
Lancia said the donor does not want to be identified and wanted to help families with unpaid accounts. He said she is someone who lives in the community, and had children who went to Westbrook schools.
"This is a blessing," said Barbara Nichols, Director of School Nutrition. "My focus is on feeding children. Debt collection is not any part of that. But that duty has become a greater and greater burden."
Nichols said about 60 percent of students in Westbrook qualify for free or reduced lunch, but there are many families who do not qualify and still live pay check to pay check. She hopes this anonymous donation will help families like them.
Lancia says he is not sure how the district will allocate the donation between accounts, but notes it will relieve a significant part of the overall debt.
Lunch at local elementary or middle schools costs approximately $2.30 — thus $10,000 is equivalent to more than 4,300 meals at that level.