A recent Instagram pushed the Rev. Bishop Kim Brown and his wife Valerie to ask congregates at Mount Lebanon Global Church in Chesapeake to pay off all of the delinquent lunch balances that students owed to Chesapeake Public Schools.
Brown is the senior pastor of Mount Lebanon Global Church. His wife is a church elder. So the couple recently contacted the nutrition department at Chesapeake Public Schools to see what could be done. They quickly learned that there was a delinquent balance of $4,101.57. The couple decided to step up and pay off all of the delinquent balances on May 3. According to a recent press release, the church paid off delinquent balances at all 28 elementary schools and all 10 Middle Schools in the City of Chesapeake.
The church noted that hunger kills more people each year than several major diseases like AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. And about 34 million children suffer from acute malnutrition.
The problem is children not only go hungry nationwide, but children are sometimes shamed for having a delinquent lunch balance.
For example, parents complained in Bedford, Ky., after their child’s lunch was taken away and thrown in the trash because she had a delinquent lunch balance. According to news reports, Dominic Gant had her lunch taken and trashed for owing $.95 at the high school she attended in Dowagiac, Mich. A parent in Utah told the Salt Lake Tribune that it was a ‘despicable act’ to humiliate children for what is a parent’s responsibility.
Shaming is used by about half of all districts to compel parents to pay delinquent lunch bills, according to a 2014 Department of Agriculture report. (About 45 percent withheld the hot meal and gave a cold sandwich, while 3 percent denied food entirely.)
Still, it is a problem nationwide. About 71 percent of the 1,100 public schools in a 2012-13 survey said their school nutrition program had unpaid lunch bills at the end of the year. Moreover, many children arrive at school hungry and count on having at least one meal a day, school teachers and principals noted in another study.
A cafeteria worker on Facebook said she quit after she was forced to take lunch from a child with an unpaid bill. And news reports show that a Utah elementary school threw away the lunches of about 40 students with unpaid food bills.
Bishop Kim W. Brown and his wife pastor Mount Lebanon Baptist Church, which is often called The Mount. It has locations in Chesapeake, Newport News, Elizabeth City and Charlotte, N.C. He and wife have been married since 1989 and have two children, James and Kimberly.