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Angel donors help Superior students

Three weeks ago, the Superior School District received a $100 gift in memory of a former food service worker.

"Their mom passed away; they wanted to do something," said Jamie Wilson, director of food service. So they did what she would have done, donated it toward outstanding food service balances.

"All she ever wanted to do was feed kids," Wilson said.

Those seeking to help students with overdue lunch accounts, field trip costs, even the price of school pictures have a new venue to do so, the Angel Fund.

The new initiative directs community support where it's needed most.

"What's nice is we already have people (donate) before we even have the fund set up," said District Administrator Janna Stevens.

The fund received a $1,000 boost from the Elk's Club this month. Another $500, donated last month by Concordia Lutheran Church, has also been earmarked for it.

"I'm going to start to let school counselors put in requests for families who are in need for those funds and then we'll allocate them how they need to go," Nicky Wilson, coordinator of family support services, told the School Board last week.

Members of the public have donated a flood of school supplies to students during the annual Stuff the Bus event, Nicky Wilson said. With the one-to-one laptop program at Superior middle and high school, however, fewer supplies have been needed. Sometimes, there is an excess of items that become hard to distribute.

The Angel Fund offers an alternative to dropping off backpacks, pens and pencils. Instead, community members can donate $20 to help pay off food service balances at a particular school or send students on a field trip with their classmates. It can be a specific or as general as the donor wants.

"I had a lady earlier in the fall who said 'I want to pay off somebody's balance at Bryant,' which is kind of nice," Nicky Wilson said.

The district currently has about $26,000 in unpaid food service balances, according to Jamie Wilson. That's about par with last year for the district, which serves about 4,500 meals a day. Nearly half of the negative accounts are at Superior high and middle schools.

The food service director stressed that students are always fed. Those with a negative balance still get a complete meal, he said, but cannot get an extra meal or any a la carte items.

"We're feeding kids but there is a shortfall we could use help with," Jamie Wilson said.

He said many of the families with negative balances would probably qualify for free or reduced lunch, if they would fill out the application. Every family that does so could save the district hundreds of dollars and keep their own account from going to collections at the end of the year. Food service applications are available at the district office or on the district website, www.superior.k12.wi.us. The number of families filling out the application increased about 25 percent this year with the addition of an online option.

In addition to donating to the Angel Fund, the Elk's Club gave the district $1,000 to feed homeless students on the weekends through the Nutrition on Weekends backpack program. About 50 Superior students bring home backpacks full of food each weekend. Because it's a partnership with Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank, every dollar donated translates to $10 worth of food.

Angel Fund donations are being taken at the district office, 3025 Tower Ave.

"We always say people care about kids," Nicky Wilson said. "This is another example of that."