The principal of Missoula’s Lowell Elementary School received an anonymous gift this week that completely paid off the entire school’s outstanding school lunch balances.

Principal Barbara Frank shared the news with KGVO.

“Early this week I got an email from a community member asking about the outstanding school lunch balance at Lowell, so I sent the person a reply that the balance was about $5,300,” said Frank. “Yesterday, that person dropped off an anonymous donation with the full amount of our lunch balance in memory of Eileen Lake."

Frank explained the changes in the school lunch program at Lowell Elementary School.

“The gift means that every family that had an outstanding lunch balance will start the New Year fresh with no balance,” she said. “This is the first year that Lowell has had to charge for lunch. In previous years we were called ‘community eligible’ and the school district worked with the Free and Reduced lunch Program to cover free lunch for all of our students. This is the first year that only the students who meet the eligibility for free and reduced lunch have those services and everyone else is full pay. It’s become a hardship for some of our families and many have balances in the multiple hundreds of dollars if they had more than one kid here. I was able to announce at our holiday programs today that if you are a family that owes a lunch balance, you don’t owe it anymore, and the whole room cheered.”

She said it was a special moment for the school community.