Local Innovation Space Canopy City Hopes to Rally the Community to Wipe Out Student Lunch Debt in Somerville

The Campaign Launches on #GivingTuesday and Will Continue until December 31st

SOMERVILLE, November 26, 2017 – For many of us, lunch is something we take for granted. However in a city where a $3 cup of coffee can seem like a bargain, many working families are struggling daily to pay less than that for their children to eat in the school cafeteria.

Even with free- and reduced- price lunch programs, parents whose incomes barely exceed federal guidelines for receiving these benefits often fall behind on cafeteria debts, and students suffer. This is a nationwide problem, but Somerville isn't immune to it.

While the Somerville Public Schools take great care not to shame those who can’t pay and do their very best to assist, it is still a source of anxiety and embarrassment for students. The School Nutrition Association estimates 75 percent of districts nationwide are dealing with unpaid bills, ranging from $2,000 to $4.7 million, depending on the size of the district.

In response, Canopy City is calling upon the business community, Canopy City member companies, and residents to donate and spread the world on #GivingTuesday with the goal of achieving a zero balance for the Somerville Public Schools by the New Year. Additionally, Canopy City will donate $50 for every new membership sold during the month of December to celebrate the 6,500-square foot expansion of its startup incubator space in Union Square, which is slated to open December 1. Canopy is also offering a month of free co-working for anyone who donates $100 or more to the fund.

“Here at Canopy City we have a strong spirit of social responsibility and a desire to bring together talented innovators who are dedicated to solving not only tech and life science challenges, but also those we face here in the community,” said Canopy Cofounder Matthew Hoey, who is a product of the Somerville Public Schools and whose grandmother was a lunch lady at his middle school.

Hoey recalls his classmates being snuck chocolate milks and food from behind the lunch line, and how his grandmother worried about kids who had nothing to eat. “Not having money for school lunch can feel humiliating, and this takes away from the ability to focus in school. Getting rid of this debt would be a simple but powerful way we can show pride in our community this holiday season,” said Hoey.

Canopy City is asking for help to get the word out on social media by sharing this link to donate: bit.ly/LunchFund