ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) — A church in Glen Burnie has raised and donated funds to eliminate meal debt in Anne Arundel County Public Schools for more than 2,500 students.

Members of the Abundant Life Church made the donation to help out families in need in their community.

“We’ve got a great school system,” said Lead Pastor Nate Drye. “Every kid gets fed but some kids rack up debt, because they can’t pay for it, and so we just wanted to help those families out.”

The donation to the 21st Century Education Foundation, a non-profit that supports Anne Arundel County Public School activities and its students, will cover student meal debts at 59 schools in the Chesapeake, Glen Burnie, Meade, North County, Northeast and Old Mill feeder systems.

“For our church, this donation is not about dollars but about the impact we can have on the lives of children,” church Lead Pastor Nate Drye said. “We believe fundamentally that we are called to serve, and we are blessed to be able to serve the community in this way.”

Rebecca Blasingame-White is the principal of Hebron-Harlem Elementary in Hanover, one of the schools that will be helped by the donation.

“One of the things that we consistently struggle with is how we’re going to be able to make sure that those debts are taken care of,” Blasingame-White said, “and sometimes it becomes increasingly significant.”

While the donation is helping provide an important meal to students, allowing them to focus in class, Principal Blasingame-White said it’s also taking a lot of pressure off their families.

“It’s going to help families take that breath, and re-evaluate but also understand that there’s still a level of generosity that’s out there and there are caring individuals,” she said.

The church requested the specific amount donated be withheld from the public.

The school system serves breakfast, lunch and free early evening meals at 45 sites, and has a summer meal program.

More than 27,000 Anne Arundel County Public Schools students – about 32 percent – qualify for free and reduced-price meals, the system said.

Sean Streicher

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