GARDEN VALLEY, Idaho — There is something to be said about communities compiled of just a couple thousand. After a year and a half of working at the Garden Valley School District (GVSD), Superintendent Randy Thompson is already seeing the charm.
"Everyone seems to know each other. They look out for each other. You kinda got each other’s back, ya know?" Thompson said. "I love being here. You don't get lost in the crowd so much when you're in a small school or small community."
The GVSD is comprised of 300 kids. They come from different backgrounds, families, and financial situations.
"It breaks my heart thinking that a kid because they don't have money or funds skips a meal. That just really hit me to the core," Thompson said.
With the help of GVSD Food Director Debbie Updike, the district identified 25 kids that skipped lunch daily. They fall into a grey area, according to Thompson. The families don’t financially qualify for free or reduced lunch; however, they also do not have enough money to afford a full lunch either.
"Without knowing the exact situation of any particular family, we don't know exactly why the child may not have had money. Could be a number of different reasons," Thompson said. "But the plain and simple fact was, this kid is not eating. We want to ensure this kid gets a meal."
Thompson wrote a letter to community members on Dec. 8 explaining the issue. He also posted it online.
Within a month, 35 donors stepped up to raise $12,000 - enough to provide free meals to 25 students every school day for up to two school years.
"We have a longer day here, a 4-day week. So, when a student misses lunch, they have a longer period without food," Updike said. "We're excited to be able to help them out."
The district could not divert funds from other sources, according to Thompson. Community support was needed to cover the costs. And that support stretched all the way to Boise where Ada County residents offered up donations as well.
"This has gotten some attention outside our own community," Thompson said. "If we find ourselves in a similar situation a few years from now, I will reach out again because I know this community is willing to respond."
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