Efland business owners challenge others to help end 'lunch shaming'

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Thursday, February 13, 2020
Local business owners challenge others to help end 'lunch shaming'
Despite a booming economy, many families are struggling to make ends meet. Leaving kids to be victim of 'lunch shaming,' a term that refers to kids who can't afford school lunches.

David Bollinger and his wife Jessica started their own business, Efland Trash Service, in 2006 so they could spend more time attending to their autistic son.

In the years since, they say he received excellent service in school that is helping him transition into adulthood. Grateful, they have looked for a way to give back.

"It really caused us to pay more attention and any chance to pay it forward we can," Jessica Bollinger said.

On social media, they heard about a problem in school cafeterias: Students whose lunch accounts that went into the negatives were being 'lunch shamed.'

Lunch shaming is a term that refers to kids that are being bullied for not being able to afford school lunches.

"It's not just here. It's all over the country. People are being lunch shamed. There are constant posts on social media about kids not being able to eat," David Bollinger said.

So Bollinger, his wife, and their daughter Makenzie checked in with the school nearest to them, Efland-Cheeks Global Elementary. The family found out that the school's total student lunch debt was $440, and if it was paid off those students could get regular lunches again.

But $440 isn't small change to a lot of small businesses like Efland Trash Service.

"It was hard but we did have a little bit left after the monthly bills and talked about as a business and as a family and we wanted to do it," said David.

Minnie Goins, the Efland-Cheeks Elementary Principal, said when her cafeteria manager told her, "'I was like, 'What? Are you serious?' And I originally thought maybe it's a national company or something of that nature. No, local. So I was really excited about it."

Goins posed for a picture with the Bollinger's and her cafeteria staff. The Bollinger's posted it on Facebook.

And the post got the attention of Will Atherton the chair of the Orange County School Board who is now proposing a county-wide lunch program that would feed all students at no cost to them.

"In our community, we're all about doing what's right and treating everybody equitably and making sure nobody's treated differently," Atherton told ABC 11.

Will Atherton knows the additional $400,000 dollar cost may not fly with county commissioners, and that's why he supports the challenge being made by the Bollinger's for other businesses to help their local school.

"Us being a small three-person business, if we can do it surely other businesses out there can do it," said David Bollinger.

So business owners the gauntlet has been laid at your feet. Let us know if you can pay off the lunch debt at your local school.