A school lunch. Image via Annapolis High School/Anne Arundel County Public Schools.

In a first, Anne Arundel County’s government is giving families some holiday debt relief for unpaid school breakfasts and lunches.

County Executive Steve Schuh’s office announced the surprise move Thursday. Schuh had proposed county lawmakers approve a funds transfer of $25,000 to pay off any outstanding meal debt in the county school system. The Anne Arundel County Council approved the move at its meeting on Monday.

“This small gesture is our way of showing that we understand the challenges that many working families in our County face,” the first-term Republican county executive said in a statement.

The money will be conveyed to the 21st Century Education Foundation, which will then convey it to the school system.

Nearly 26,000 of the county’s 83,000 or so students receive free or reduced lunches, with around 3,800 specifically enrolled in the reduced-meal program, Anne Arundel County Public Schools spokesman Bob Mosier told Baltimore Fishbowl. (Plenty of other families make too much money to qualify for free or reduced meals, he noted, “but not enough money to make ends meet.”)

The school system’s Food and Nutrition Services department doesn’t receive any public funding, but rather relies on grants and revenue from meal sales.

This is the first time the county government has agreed to such a move, Mosier said.

“It’s certainly a very kind gesture on the county’s part, and it’s great news for families whose accounts have become delinquent that they don’t have to worry about that.”

Ethan McLeod is a freelance reporter in Baltimore. He previously worked as an editor for the Baltimore Business Journal and Baltimore Fishbowl. His work has appeared in Bloomberg CityLab, Next City and...