A Gilbert mortgage broker stepped in to fill a much-needed gap this week when it presented Higley Unified School District with a check to pay off debt from unpaid student meals. The donation means hundreds of students' balances are clear and several years of debt are erased.
Barrett Financial Group donated $50,000 to the district’s on April 24. Owners and employees in the company decided to forego incentives with one of their lenders this year in favor of giving back to the community. The local area company felt that at this unprecedented time in history it was important to support Higley students and community.
"Every year, the district racks up thousands of dollars in debt from unpaid meals, and this year is no different. In response, we have collaborated with UWM to allow us to trade-in Partner Points in return for a charitable donation on behalf of each of our loan officers. With our donation, the school district can pay off their entire cafeteria fund debt, all thanks to you," Trevor Barrett, president and owner of Barrett Financial Group, wrote in an email.
When students in Higley seek to purchase a cafeteria meal, they are allowed to do so, even when they have a balance. The district works with families to try help those in need - directing them to federal free and reduced lunch meal programs.
But unpaid meals can mean unexpected debt for the district and a need to redirect precious dollars to pay off those sums.
"I am so grateful to Barrett Financial Group. This donation will take the stress off Higley families, which is much needed any time but especially right now," Superintendent Dr. Mike Thomason said. "It will also allow the district to move forward without meal service debt as we start looking at the next school year."
Governing Board President Amy Kaylor expressed her thanks, as well.
"This is such a huge blessing to our community and I'm very grateful," she said.
The Higley District is currently serving more than 3,000 meals and counting daily through curbside meal service. Pick up times range from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to meet the varied needs of the community. Meals are available for anyone 18 years of age and younger. This is not a needs-based program and families do not have to attend Higley schools to qualify. The HUSD has also offered to deliver meals to community non-profit organizations to support those children 18 years of age and under.