Mom raises money to protect students from food ‘worse than prisons’


NORFOLK, VA (WAVY/CNN) – A Virginia mother has taken up a crusade to raise money for proper school lunches for students at her children’s elementary school.

Once the negative balances of students at Ocean View Elementary in Norfolk, VA, reach $5, the kids are given a free option of a cheese sandwich and milk for lunch.

“It tasted like nothingness,” Noahe Fahrenkrug, 9, said. “They just wanted to feed me and just get done with it.”

Heather DiRocco, Faherenkrug’s mother, says this lunch is appreciated but not acceptable. On GoFundMe, she says it’s unfair for public school children “to be punished and treated worse than prisons.”

“These kids are growing. A cold cheese sandwich isn’t going to cut it,” DiRocco said.

At the beginning of the school year, DiRocco says the accounts for her 2nd, 3rd, and 5th grade children became delinquent while their applications for the free and reduced lunch program were being processed.

The program gives students more choices than the cheese sandwich.

But DiRocco says even though her kids are now on the program, she learned from the cafeteria manager that there are at least 30 students who owe money and aren’t on the program.

“She was saying there’s a lot of kids in that school who also are eating these cold cheese sandwiches, and it breaks her heart but it’s not their fault,” DiRocco said.

DiRocco took to GoFundMe to raise money for the students’ bills and to get people thinking about donating to their local school.

“There is some child in that class who could be a future scientist. He could be a future president, for all we know, but he or she is not putting enough effort into class because they are focusing on being hungry,” DiRocco said.

Grandmother Andrea Scott says she’s thankful for DiRocco’s initiative. She says when her three grandkids owe money, they forego lunch altogether to avoid the dreaded cheese sandwich.

“When he does that, he comes home and he’s tired and he’s dragging and he doesn’t have the energy,” Scott said.

DiRocco says she wants to end the embarrassment for kids and help parents who might be down on their luck.

“I have no idea as to why their accounts are not paid, or why they are not on the free/reduced plans, but what I do know is that we can help them,” wrote DiRocco on GoFundMe.

DiRocco started with a fundraising goal of $500 to cover 80 students’ lunches for three days. In the four days since the fundraiser began, the mother has raised more than four times that goal.

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