An anonymous donor is giving families with negative Evansville School District lunch accounts a fresh start.

The $11,000 donation, approved by the district earlier this month, will clear all overdue student food service accounts.

Superintendent Jerry Roth said it’s the largest donation the district has ever received to help students with food service fees.

“It’s always appreciated when we get any kind of donation from community members,” Roth said.

“It’s not so much as it helps us, but it helps the families in need, and to me that’s the beauty of this donation.”

The negative balances have accumulated over multiple years, said Jamie Merath, the district’s business manager.

About 800 students eat breakfast or lunch at school. Standard meals cost $2.50 at the elementary school and $2.85 at the middle and high schools.

Merath said balances roll over from year to year, and families are notified if they are overdue. The district doesn’t deny students meals if their accounts are empty, but they get a standard meal and can’t get a la carte items, Merath said.

She hopes the donation will serve as a fresh start for the district, which is looking at ways to prevent future lunch debt from reaching the same level.

“We’re ecstatic about this fantastic donation to our families that are in need of financial support,” she said.

A new procedure for the 2019-20 school year includes an automatic phone call when a student account drops below zero. Further steps are being considered.