School Lunch Debt Context in America

We're following two sources to get our bearings so far. Share the sources you know? We're interested in expanding our understanding. Here are the sources:
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Why do we care? Our founder made promises, ~7yrs ago, about what he'd do when he had a bit of a runway. Those distant goals helped him keep his head down building his last company. One of the promises he made was to make a positive impact on school lunch debt because of the impact it had on him growing up.

So, what's the context? As of 2019, there are approx. 56M primary and secondary students in America eating 29.6M lunches served each day. Approx. 26.4M students bring their lunch. Roughly 7.7M “hot” lunches are paid in full by families. Another 20.1M lunches are paid in full by the USDA. Leaving 1.9M students on the “reduced” lunch. Thanks for the help USDA, I was one of those kids. (Note, it remains an open question what will happen after June of 2022, the current last, date of pandemic extensions.)

Families of 4 earning between $34,450 and $49,025 (a ~15k delta) are eligible for reduced lunch if they fill out the forms and submit them. Just 1.9M students are in the program. Statistics and anecdotes suggest many don’t fill out the forms.

What's a school to do with kids that can’t/don't pay for lunch? Kids are there to learn in tax/public supported schools. Learning is hard to do on rumbling stomachs.

As an operator, do you give lunches so you can accomplish the goal of learning? Do you make 'em of lower quality? Do you signal what food is for what kids (w/ stickers, a different line)? Further, how do you cover the balance sheet reality? Do you use a collection agency, raise money on a "fund me," ask the PTO, or a charity for help? Do you use education funds to cover the spread?

As of May 2021, national school lunch meal debt was $262M a year, $170.13 per child. 75.1% of surveyed schools had unpaid student meal debt. 43% of districts reported an increase in students who can’t afford meals.

How does school lunch and kitchen knife sharpening work together?

Some 120M households have a set of knives. In the best case 4-10M had them sharpened or acquired a new set last year. Knives dull with normal use over a year, if not faster. ~110M knife sets are ready to be sharpened. Current solutions are wonderful (as are most, if not all, sharpeners) but they are also time consuming and full of friction. And this is why millions upon millions of people smoosh food with dull knives every day. 

What can we do about it? We're offering knife sharpening by mail ordered via the internet and making the whole process easy. We'll pay off some school lunch debt for every set we sharpen too. Head to and order your knives sharp today.

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