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New Charlotte Chubb Memorial Fund helps students pay for lunches

By Dan Miller

danmiller@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 10/4/17

The RaiderPacks drive is not the only effort to address hunger among students of Middletown Area School District being launched with the start of the 2017-18 school year.

The Charlotte Chubb …

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New Charlotte Chubb Memorial Fund helps students pay for lunches

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The RaiderPacks drive is not the only effort to address hunger among students of Middletown Area School District being launched with the start of the 2017-18 school year.

The Charlotte Chubb Memorial Fund, approved by the school board on Aug. 28, will receive donations from the community that go toward ensuring that the families of all children in the school district have money to cover the cost of a student lunch each day.

RaiderPacks is an initiative to provide backpacks full of food to help feed district children and their families over the weekend.

Both initiatives have these two things in common: They are dependent on the generosity of the community, and both programs stress the importance of confidentiality regarding the students and families that are being helped.

The Charlotte Chubb Memorial Fund was created at the urging of Jim Hoffman, a Middletown resident who was inspired by Chubb, who spent her career as a cafeteria worker at the former Feaser Middle School in Middletown.

“This lady never hesitated to help somebody out if they were in need,” said Hoffman, who was a student at Feaser while Chubb was there. In later years he got to know Chubb better as an employee with the school district’s ground crew.

Chubb died in 2015. After her passing Chubb’s children learned that their mother for years while at Feaser had been quietly loaning money to kids who didn’t have enough to buy lunch.

“I don’t know if she got paid back. I never knew about this until now, she is gone and I can’t ask her,” said Chubb’s daughter Carol Chubb Jones, who lives in Middletown.

The idea for the fund first came to Hoffman about two years ago, shortly after Chubb died. He approached Carol Chubb Jones — they both graduated from Middletown Area High School in 1973 — and also starting talking up the fund to other Blue Raider alumni during get-togethers at the Brownstone.

Things picked up steam as the issue of school districts “shaming” students who didn’t have enough money for lunch started getting more attention in the media.

Hoffman was especially impacted by reports about a cafeteria worker in a western Pennsylvania school district, who quit her job instead of having to deny a regular lunch to an elementary school student.

Hoffman knows there are many children in the school district who qualify for free and reduced lunches. But there are also cases where a family that was doing all right suddenly finds itself falling on hard times.

“This is for kids that are square pegs that don’t fit in a round hole,” Hoffman, who is now retired, told the school board on Aug. 28. “Say a family member loses their job or loses their income through divorce, whatever, and he or she would not be able to feed their kid.”

“There are families out there who are struggling in our community,” said district Superintendent Lori Suski. “They may not meet the requirements for free or reduced lunch because it may be a temporary situation.”

Hoffman afterward told the Press & Journal of one such family in his own neighborhood that he had learned of several years back.

He asked the mother one day, “‘What do you need?’ She said $20 a week.”

For the next year and a half Hoffman said he made sure that $20 found its way to the family each week. Many times he just put the money in an envelope in the mailbox, always anonymously.

“I don’t think she ever knew” from whom the money came, Hoffman said. “We still talk” but the woman has never said anything to him about the money.

Over the 2016-17 school year the district reported $7,500 in outstanding debt for student lunches that had not been paid for by parents, Suski said.

Families having financial difficulties will apply through their respective school to receive assistance from the fund. Suski hopes that the application can be ready for families to start applying on Oct. 1.

How much assistance is available will depend entirely on how much money is donated to the fund, Suski said.

Every student in the school district has their own account that a family pays money into to cover their meals for each school day.

Money donated to the fund will be deposited into the account of students whose families have applied and have been determined by the school district to be eligible to receive the assistance. 

Money from the fund will not go toward reducing the district’s outstanding debt for student lunches that were not paid for in the past, Suski said.

Another resident recently approached Suski about making a contribution toward reducing the debt, but “we have not yet solidified that donation,” Suski said.

Besides looking to alumni to contribute to the new fund, Hoffman said he has been talking with Turkey Hill about the company placing buckets in its conveniences stores to collect money toward the fund.

Anyone can also donate to the fund now by dropping off or sending a contribution to Middletown Area School District at 55 W. Water St., Middletown, Pa., 17057. 

If writing a check, put “Charlotte Chubb Memorial Fund” in the memo line.

The contributions will be tax-deductible, Suski said.

The first $150 donated to the fund came from Hoffman. He gave $100, and chipped in another $50 as a birthday present in the name of one of his friends, Mike Penyak.

Instead of buying him birthday presents from now on, Hoffman requests that people similarly donate money in his name to the fund.

“Let’s go out there and troll and see what we can catch,” Hoffman said, reaching back to the hunting and fishing days of his youth. “This is what I’m hoping would catch fire.”

Jones said she is “awed” by what Hoffman is doing in her mother’s honor.

Charlotte Chubb herself wouldn’t want the attention, her daughter said.

“She was old school. When she passed away her one big thing was she didn’t want her picture in the paper. She didn’t want a big fuss, she just did her thing,” Jones said. “She would not have wanted the accolades, but too bad, she is getting them.”

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