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$10,000 Donation Helps Pay Off Student Lunch Debt

Austin builders have raised $10,000 to help pay off the lunch debts of Austin ISD students. This effort by the Austin Infill Coalition was spearheaded by Ed Ishmael—a local lawyer and developer who builds houses on Austin’s east side.

“While our members are already contributing to our city in various ways, we wanted to find a way, as a group, to give back to this city we all love and to the communities in which we build. Paying off student lunch debt seemed perfect for our first effort,” said Ishmael, who formed the nonprofit Builders Care Austin as a philanthropy organization of the infill building community.

AISD allows students to buy their lunches on credit. Initially, Builders Care Austin set a goal to raise $1,500 to retire all student lunch debts in east Austin’s 78702 ZIP code, but within hours of sending the first contribution request, the group blew past that goal.

Within the first 72 hours, the group raised $7,500 and aimed higher at $10,000, which they have now reached. So far, Builders Care Austin has received donations from more than 50 builders and those affiliated with infill building in Austin.

“We are so grateful to Builders Care Austin for their generosity and support of our students. This is huge,” said AISD’s Executive Director of Food Services and Warehouse Operations Anneliese Tanner. “We estimate this $10,000 will pay for 3,400 student lunches and reduce the districtwide student lunch debt considerably.”

As of April 20, the total student lunch debt for AISD was about $31,000. Builders Care said they hope to eventually help retire the remaining debt, as well, and, possibly make this an annual effort.

“It is frustrating in a prosperous city to know families are struggling at the basic level of a school lunch. You can’t overstate the importance of a meal here,” said David Whitworth, a builder and contributor. “This group of builders helped alleviate a financial burden for their neighbors and that feels good. It was the most enthusiastic fundraising effort I've witnessed.”

To contribute to AISD’s fund to pay off student lunch debt, please visit https://edbacker.com/c/20172018-help-keep-student-meal-accounts-current.