Poplar Bluff Junior/Senior High students receive Operation Lunch Box gift from Ross Fuel Center

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. (KBSI) – Junior and senior high students with outstanding lunch balances at Poplar Bluff Junior and Senior High received a gift just in time for Christmas.

Ross Fuel Center recently hosted a fundraiser, matching the total collected from its customer base, in an effort to help reduce outstanding lunch balances at area schools.

Tiffany Voyles, manager of the gas station on U.S. 67 Business North in Poplar Bluff, donated around $600. The money was split between Poplar Bluff Junior and Senior High, as the result of its Operation Lunch Box campaign through the month of November.

“I said, ‘I’ve got to do something,’” Voyles said. “I wish I could give them my paycheck. If I had all the money in the world, I would help more.”

Voyles became aware of the student debt issue from a collection effort taking place at her son’s school in East Carter. She learned about the vital role cafeteria meals play in the nourishment of children from her time living in Salem when schools were closed during the pandemic, she said.

Company officials decided to match any contributions given at the cash register.

“Our customers are amazing,” said Voyles, noting that sister company Leerjak Travel Center in Ellsinore also participated in the fundraiser to generate even more money. Voyles has worked for the Ross family off and on for just under a decade.

Junior High Principal Candace Warren said that her kitchen manager provided a list of balances. The school applied $100 to the three highest accounts, contacting parents to notify them.

“They were all super appreciative,” Warren said. She wrote on the Junior High Facebook page: “We are so fortunate to live in such a giving community.”

High School Principal Dr. Valerie Ivy says she plans to pull data in order to identify students who may not have gotten applications under the National School Lunch Program submitted in time.

“I’m hoping to evenly distribute the funds to students with the highest needs,” Ivy said. She added that while the library operates its Giving Closet to provide students in need with classroom supplies, clothing, hygiene items and snacks: “This is one resource we don’t have.”

At Poplar Bluff Schools, all elementary students and younger receive free meals through the Community Eligibility Program under the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Categories: News