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Austin Infill Builders Band Together to Pay Off Student Lunch Debt

In less than two weeks, local Austin infill builders raised $10,000 in less than to help pay off the lunch debts of Austin ISD students.

This means that 3,400 students will won't have to carry home a note to their parents, reminding them of the debt they had accrued simply by getting a hot meal at school. While some students are enrolled in a free/reduced lunch program that either partially or entirely covers the cost of their lunch and sometimes breakfast at school, plenty of other students either haven’t applied for the program or their parents make too much money to qualify but still struggle to pay off their lunch account.

“While our members are already contributing to our city in various ways, we wanted to find a way, as a group, to give back to this City we all love and to the communities in which we build. Paying off student lunch debt seemed perfect for our first effort,” states Mr. Ishmael who formed the non-profit “Builders Care Austin” as a vehicle for philanthropy from the infill building community.

Initially, Builders Care Austin set a goal to raise $1,500 to retire all student lunch debts in east Austin’s 78702 ZIP code, but within hours of sending the first contribution request, the group blew past that goal and has now collected $10,000.

“We are so grateful to Builders Care Austin for their generosity and support of our students. This is huge,” said AISD’s Executive Director of Food Services and Warehouse Operations Anneliese Tanner.

As of April 20, the total student lunch debt for AISD was about $31,000. Builders Care hopes to help retire the remaining debt, as well, and possibly, make this an annual effort.

“It is frustrating in a prosperous city to know families are struggling at the basic level of a school lunch. You can’t overstate the importance of a meal here. This group of builders helped alleviate a financial burden for their neighbors, and that feels good. It was the easiest, most enthusiastic fundraising effort I've witnessed,” said David Whitworth, local infill builder, and contributor.

Infill builders, like Riverside Homes, deliver housing inside the city in existing neighborhoods near job centers, which is easier on the environment than suburban building and less of a strain on the municipal budget, since infill building optimizes existing infrastructure and city service areas. Austin infill builders don’t just build in Austin’s neighborhoods; we care about our communities.