GILLETTE, Wyo. — Tonight, Campbell County school board members recognized the impact of Thank Heaven For Kids, a nonprofit that works to ensure the school district’s children have access to nourishing meals.
The nonprofit works to prevent students who cannot afford to buy lunch from being the victim of lunch shaming by allowing them to have lunch paid for them without other students knowing. Each building has a place where children can pick up money and use a lunch ticket to go through the lunch line without indicating they cannot pay for lunch.
The children who participate in the program are from families that do not qualify for government-funded free or reduced lunches but still struggle to afford a regular cafeteria lunch, according to a flier.
“By replacing the cheese sandwich with a full lunch ticket, we eliminate bullying, boost academic engagement and foster a more inclusive educational environment,” the flier said.
Trustee Rollo Williams leads the organization.
He said that in the 2022–23 academic year, the organization spent $28,000, or about $3,000 a month. The COVID-19 pandemic contributed to financial challenges. Last month, the organization spent about $700, so he is hopeful that that is a sign that families are better able to afford food this year.
Williams said he initially believed the program would be appropriate for students in kindergarten through sixth grades, but he extended it through high school after someone said there are junior high and high school students who go to schools’ commons areas during lunch because they cannot afford lunch.
Anyone who wants to make a donation can do so at any district building or school, on Facebook at Thank Heaven For Kids or through wy-campbellcounty.intouchreceipting.com/signin. On that website, the username is “Nutrition” and the password is “Donation.” Then, click “Nutrition Donation,” “Items at All Schools, “Other,” “District Office” and “Items.” Checks can also be delivered to Central Services, 1000 W. 8th St., Gillette.