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Elementary Students Use Church ‘Reverse Offering’ Money To Launch Campaign To Pay Off School Lunch Debts

school lunch debts
Screengrab via KELO

A group of elementary school students in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, has launched a campaign to pay off school lunch debts following a “reverse offering” given by Embrace Church to congregants. 

The money that the multisite church gave to its congregants was intended to be used in the community to bless others this holiday season. 

This is not the first time Embrace has given a reverse offering. In 2021, Embrace Church gave out $40,000 to be used in the community. 

This year, the church gave out $60,000. Each child in the congregation was given $5. 

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Armed with their $5 bills, three elementary-aged girls set out to multiply their offering to pay off school lunch debts. 

“It’s pretty sad to see people not eat,” 8-year-old Leah Anderson told KELO

The total school lunch debt in the Sioux Falls School District is roughly $92,000, according to SD War College. After students have accrued $75 or more in debt, they are not provided with lunch again “until the account is back in good standing.”

According to Sioux Falls Simplified, more than 1,800 students in Sioux Falls currently have negative school lunch balances. 

The girls have launched a donation-matching campaign online and in their local community with a goal of turning a $5 donation into a $500 donation. 

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Nine-year-old Liz Jaspers said, “We told them there’s people in our grade and we watch them and they come to school with no lunch and it’s not because they forgot it at home.”