Mother donates lunch money to DPS foundation helping feed families struggling amid COVID-19 outbreak

Posted at 10:22 PM, Mar 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-01 01:05:11-04

DENVER — The novel coronavirus crisis has increased stress for parents who face the challenges of job loss, mounting bills, school closures and putting food on the table. But one Colorado mother is paying it forward in hopes of inspiring other parents to follow in her footsteps.

Janet Lopez Vilsack’s 5-year-old son, Cassin Vilsack, attends preschool at Trevista At Horace Mann. Unsure of when school will open back up, Lopez decided to donate the money in his lunch account to the Denver Public Schools Food Security Fund to help struggling families.

“We know friends that have lost their jobs,” she said. “It’s a really hard time and it’s going to be a really hard time for a while,” Vilsack said.

DPS sent out a notification to parents letting them know they could donate left-over lunch money to the school’s foundation. They got the idea from an anonymous parent eager to help families in the school district.

“When I first heard about this idea to donate our students’ lunch money to help others, I was impressed by how these times can bring out the creativity and ingenuity of the community," President & CEO of DPS Foundation, Verónica Figoli, told Denver7.

If you want to donate, all you have to do is log into your My School Bucks account and fill out an application.

“If you have your student ID ready, it probably will take you less than 5 minutes to fill out the form,” Vilsack said.

The money provides families with extra support, including grab-and-go meals, as many grapple with the outbreak across the Front Range and beyond. The school district is currently offering free breakfast and lunch at 12 locations.

“It feels good to know that hopefully, the challenge about food is at least one thing that can be taken off their plate,” Lopez said.

Vilsack hopes to inspire parents to dig into their account and help pay it forward, a lesson in kindness that doesn’t require a classroom.

To learn more about the Food Security Fund, click here.