Restaurant owner paying off school lunch debt for Anne Arundel Co. Schools

Posted at 11:21 PM, Jul 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-07 06:37:45-04

Anne Arundel County Schools has $20,000 in school meal debt. Now, one local restaurant owner wants to step in and help. 

When students can't afford a meal, the cost gets recorded and the county has to pay for it, even if it has to use money from the operating budget.

"Being residents of the county we wanted to take advantage of our ability to help the kids," Sumeet Goel, franchise owner of Caliburger said.

Goel recently opened a Caliburger in Annapolis, but his business is about more than just burgers.

"We opened up last year in Columbia and we worked with the Special Olympics of Howard County and this time we wanted to do something different, something that's very personal to us," he said.

"My wife and I both went to public schools and we thought, why not go directly to the source instead of going to a charity," Goel continued.

Caliburger is just one of several franchises Goel owns, but he and his team are dedicated to giving back.

"For the next two weeks were going to be giving 5 percent of our sales to help pay off the county's cafeteria debt," he said.

Caliburger is also taking donations from customers in store or from the store's GoFundMe page.

"I never forgot where I came from," he said. "My parents worked from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. when I was a kid and so the school system was very important for me and my siblings including my wife and her siblings to get nutrition."

Funding for the county's food and nutrition services comes from state and federal grants and food sales, but no county money. While no child is ever denied a meal because of a negative balance, the school must make up that money somehow. Goel says that hits home for him.

"It really affects me because I was that kid 20 years ago ,so for me it's personal."

Anne Arundel Public School leaders say they believe this is the first time a single entity has offered to pay its meal debt balance. They say they're blessed for all the help from the community and Caliburger.

You can help by visiting the county's website.