WHITEHALL, Mich. (WOOD) — As a single mom, Heidi Bruesch knows how quickly school costs can add up.
Fortunately, she has never fallen behind on her kid’s school lunch bill.
“But I know a lot of parents that have lunch debt,” Bruesch said.
Make that had lunch debt in the Whitehall and Montague School Districts.
Fetch Brewing Company in Whitehall has picked up the tab for $5,500 in unpaid school lunch bills.
Their generosity will impact the families of some 650 students in both the Whitehall and Montague districts.
Fetch owners say it’s about giving back to the White Lake community.
“They’ve embraced us. We would not be able to give if our community wasn’t supporting us,” said Jen Hain, who owns Fetch with her husband, Dan.
Fetch Brewing’s donation was inspired by fellow beer crafter, the Mitten Brewing Company.
The Grand Rapids-based brewer picked up lunch tabs for Suttons Bay Schools, where they have a brewery in Northport.
They also paid for unpaid lunch bills in the Fennville School District. Mitten has a location in nearby Saugatuck.
As you might imagine, Fetch Brewing’s donation is getting a lot of reaction on social media.
“It was a significant amount. Enough for us to take pause and look at that and decide is this something we can do,” Hain said. “But then when you look at the other side of that and also think about what that dollar amount represents… that can be a scary thought to some kids.”
The debt relief is not just a gift for parents who have a difficult time paying for lunches.
Hain says school officials told her half the parents with unpaid lunch bills owe less than $15.
Often times, parents who can afford the bill let it slip for various reasons.
In those cases, Hain hopes the parents pay it forward.
“Maybe those parents who were intended to write a small check or even a large check, can still do so, and it can kind of go into an account and can be used to benefit those students whose families do struggle,” Hain said.
Bruesch says she has witnessed the generosity of the White Lake community first hand and thinks Hain is on to something.
“There are families that have been in turmoil or whatever, and then they get the help from another family,” Bruesch said. “It does… kind of like just trickle down.”