Anonymous donor, church give $5K toward Plum student lunch debts


A Plum church and an anonymous donor have given more than $5,000 toward paying student lunch debts in the Plum School District.

The anonymous donor gave $4,300 to pay off the entire balance owed at Pivik Elementary. Food service director Jessica Griggle said it’s the largest donation toward delinquent lunch accounts she has seen in eight years as director.

Holiday Park United Methodist Church gave $1,000, which Griggle said will be used to help families in need.

“The generous donations we have received is a reflection of the dedication of the Plum Borough community. The dedication to support our students and fellow community members is overwhelming,” she said. “The donations are truly impacting the lives of individuals.”

Both donations were motivated by a TribLive report in February detailing the debt, which, at that time, totaled more than $45,000.

“We are incredibly grateful for the generosity of Holiday Park United Methodist Church and the anonymous donor who has helped to pay off student lunch balances at our schools,” Superintendent Rick Walsh said.

“This kind gesture is a true testament to the caring and supportive community we have here in our district. It is heartwarming to see individuals coming together to ensure that all of our students have access to nutritious meals without the burden of unpaid balances.”

In a letter to Griggle, the Rev. Patricia M. Nelson of Holiday Park United Methodist cited the story appearing in the weekly Plum Advance Leader.

“We understand the financial struggles that families face today, and this congregation is blessed to be able to offer some support,” Nelson wrote.

The anonymous donor, a woman from Plum, asked for the current balance at Pivik and paid it, Griggle said.

“We had a discussion. We talked about kids going hungry and not being fed. She wanted to make sure that wasn’t happening,” Griggle said. “I assured her we do feed all the students regardless of what their account balance is.”

The district’s current delinquent lunch debt totals just over $44,000:

• Plum High School: $25,663, 370 accounts

• Plum Middle School: $9,501, 129 accounts

• O’Block Elementary: $3,186, 111 accounts

After being paid off, the debt has begun to reaccumulate at Pivik, where 53 accounts now owe about $280, Griggle said.

While breakfast is free at all schools in Pennsylvania, Plum does not qualify to offer free lunches to all of its students.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a TribLive reporter covering news in New Kensington, Arnold and Plum. A Pittsburgh native and graduate of Penn State University’s Schreyer Honors College, Brian has been with the Trib since December 2000. He can be reached at


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2024-04-14 08:01:00

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