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The Board of Education celebrated Newtown High School senior Elle Sauli for creating a program called “Lunch Love,” a fundraising program to help feed students who cannot afford lunch, during its Celebration of Excellence portion of its meeting on December 19.
Interim Superintendent of Schools Dr Lorrie Rodrigue explained at the meeting that the program was designed to “provide students that have no money for a regular lunch.”
“This was an idea Elle brought forward in early fall,” said Dr Rodrigue.
The Lunch Love fundraiser is designed to occur the week before Thanksgiving and near Valentine’s Day annually. The program was held for the first time this year in November.
For the program, students across the district, with the help of local PTA members, were asked to decorate heart-shaped cards and donate $2. The money raised will be used in accounts overseen by district food service provider Whitsons Culinary Group. Accounts will be maintained for each school and will be used to provide lunches for students with no money in their personal accounts for lunch.
“This program collected over $2,000 across all schools, averaging around $300 a school,” said Dr Rodrigue, adding that local parents continue to request to be able to make monthly contributions.
Dr Rodrigue said she wanted the board to recognize Elle during its Celebration of Excellence for her contributions to the school community.
“On behalf of the district we are proud of Elle and students like Elle who identify issues and find ways to address them,” said Dr Rodrigue.
Elle was asked to speak at the meeting. She explained the idea for the fundraising program was formed when she was having dinner with her parents, mother Natalie and father Michael, about nine months ago. That day a student behind her at lunch was unable to purchase a meal.
“That day I bought the student behind me at lunch a meal, and it felt like something needed to be changed,” said Elle.
It took a while to come up with the name for the program, but Elle said she eventually settled on Lunch Love.
After the program ran for the first time in November, Elle set up displays at the local schools to share the heart-shaped cards that were decorated for the program.
“After spending over 150 hours working on this, developing it and putting it into the schools,” said Elle, “I cannot be more proud of the help I received from the PTA, my fellow students, the students at the elementary schools, all of the principals, and my parents for helping me with this amazing idea.”
Elle said she is proud and humbled to see what her idea has turned into.
Board of Education Chair Michelle Embree Ku presented Elle with a certificate to note her accomplishment.
“We, too, are proud and humbled to have you amongst us,” said Ms Ku to Elle at the board meeting.