lunch debt paid

MAUMELLE, Ark. (KARK) -- School lunch debt is not uncommon around the country.

Schools right here in Pulaski County rack up a huge bill from families not being able to afford lunch.

Today one local man decided to pay that bill for Crystal Hill Elementary.

“I’ve been here for 12 years as the principal and I have never known that to happen,” says Stacy Bottoms, Principal of Crystal Hill Elementary.

Bottoms says that she was shocked when someone paid the overdue school lunch accounts.

“It was around 150 students who had charges,” says Bottoms.

Bottoms was almost as shocked as Patrick Eaton when he found out how big the bill was.

“I wanted to see what the bill was and when she gave me the number I said I have to call you back,” said Patrick Eaton a father of a third grade student there.

Eaton called back and wrote a check for $6,732.54.

“That’s just one school and that’s not even half a year yet,” said Eaton.

“Sometimes this is the only meal students get so we allow them to charge their meal,” says Bottoms.

Bottoms tells me that allowing students to charge their lunches wasn’t always the case.

“Several years ago our district did give so many chances to change and at some point they would just get a grilled cheese sandwich but that policy has been changed thankfully so they get the full lunch,” says Bottoms.

Bottoms says lunch is necessary for kids to make it through the day.

Eaton feels the same way.

“So if you’re sitting there and you’re hungry and all you can think about is how hungry you are, and you start getting tired and sleepy because you don’t have the energy to get through the day. That kid isn’t going to get the education they need,” said Eaton.

Which is why he paid the bill.

“It’s something I was more than happy to do,” says Eaton.

Nearly $7,000 is just one school’s bill.

After taking that off the district’s total for this half of the school year, more than $91,000 is still left to be paid.

Eaton is encouraging everyone to help out and give a little.