amilies for Education Improvement (FEI) Pays Off School Lunch Debt for All Students at Lake Elkhorn Middle SchoolHoward County Families for Education Improvement (FEI) has provided a $2,200 donation to pay off the school lunch debt for all students at Lake Elkhorn Middle School in Columbia, Maryland. FEI is a grassroots organization made up of parent volunteers who advocate for all students in Howard County to have the resources and opportunities to achieve an outstanding education.What is school lunch debt? Lunch debt is accrued when students cannot pay for a meal and stands as a collectible debt against the family. “Food insecurity and a lack of reliable access to food is a reality for many of our families,” said Melissa Shindel, Principal of Lake Elkhorn Middle School. “Meal debt can cause anxiety, depression, anger, and even school avoidance. Thanks so much to Families for Education Improvement for their donation towards our students’ lunch debt.” Vipin Sahijwani, President of FEI, reaffirmed the organization’s commitment to advocate for all students. “FEI believes all students in the county should have the resources they need to be the best students they can be and don’t suffer from shame or distractions related to their ability to obtain adequate food to fuel their day.” What is FEI Doing for Our Students in Need? In addition to this lunch debt donation, FEI recently partnered with the Kindness Pantry to adopt Stevens Forest Elementary School and complete its entire wish list of school supplies and snacks. FEI then called upon our community to help fulfill the wish lists of other schools, and already the Kindness Pantry at Deep Run Elementary School is full. FEI member David Clifton also recently provided testimony to the Howard County Board of Education calling attention to the serious underfunding of classroom instructional materials in the HCPSS budget. Instructional materials is the only state budget category which has decreased year over year in dollars since 2010. “Our classroom materials are significantly deficient compared to other counties, even those with less resources, and the children in our schools are seeing this lack of proper planning and resources every day,” said Clifton. “We should and we must demand better.” What Can You Do? As we approach MLK Day of Service, FEI encourages Howard County residents to engage in activities that will directly benefit our students and make a positive difference in our community. Here’s how you can help: - Glen Mar Church 2020 Day of Service, Monday Jan 20: Volunteer alongside 1,400 community members in this family-friendly service activity for ages 5 and up at Glen Mar Church in Ellicott City, MD. Come for an hour or come for the day! Register at https://glenmarumc.org/gmcevents/dayofservice/- Visit and like the Kindness Pantry facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/gretaluhar/) and join in donating items that our students need to succeed. Items are still needed to fill the Kindness Pantry at several elementary schools.