Michigan brewery pays lunch debt for entire school district

Michigan brewery pays lunch debt for entire school district

SUTTONS BAY, Mich. — A Michigan brewery helped a school district wipe away its school lunch debt, donating $2,700 to square the accounts of all elementary, middle school and high school districts.

The Mitten Brewing Company made the donation Tuesday to the Suttons Bay Public School district, WPBN reported, paying off the debt incurred during the 2018-2019 school year. The district had 612 students last year, MLive reported.

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Thanks to The Mitten Brewing Company - Northport for Donating to pay off all Student Lunch Balances here at Suttons Bay...

Posted by Suttons Bay Public Schools on Tuesday, August 13, 2019

"It was like. 'Wow, somebody's gonna do this for us.' The Mitten Brewing Company called and asked how much and it was just unbelievable that that would happen," Suttons Bay Public Schools Superintendent Michael Carmean told WPBN. "People see a need, and when people see a need in this community, they step up."

The donation is part of the brewery's nonprofit branch, Mitten Foundation, Inc., MLive reported.

“We’ve been waiting for something, an opportunity to make a big gesture," Chris Andrus, one of the owners of the Grand Rapids-based brewery, told the website.

That opportunity arose when Joe Symons, a bartender for the brewery who is also a substitute teacher in the school district, mentioned the lunch debt to Andrus.

"(Symons) told us that there's a lot of shame with kids that can't afford it," Andrus told MLive. "You can't be your best at school when you're worried about something like that."

Carmean said no student is denied lunch because of the inability to pay, but the amount owed is logged into their account, to be settled at a later date, WPBN reported.

"If they can't pay, we still give them lunch, but it goes on their accounts," Carmean told MLive. "Some parents call to get it off, but some can't."

Andrus said it was nice to allow students in the district to start the new school year with a clean slate.

"This felt really good," Andrus told MLive.