Hillsboro Cafe and Bakery is reducing the community’s unpaid school lunch balance, one cupcake at a time – Grand Forks Herald

Restaurant News

The owners of the HIllsboro Cafe and Bakery have donated the proceeds from cupcake sales to the Hillsboro Public Schools unpaid lunch accounts during the past year. Each month, Kate Ehnert designates one of the flavors of cupcakes she makes for the bakery as cupcake of the month, and she and her husband donate a percentage of the proceeds to reduce the balance of the school’s unpaid lunch accounts.

Hillsboro Cafe and Bakery has sold 2,425 cupcakes, including this month’s “Very Vanilla with Buttercream Frosting,” through the program since March 2019.

The Ehnerts, who moved from Minneapolis two years ago to purchase the bakery and cafe business in Hillsboro, conceived the cupcake idea because they know what it is like to be members of families who are having difficulty making ends meet.

“We both know what it’s like to be struggling to put food on the table,” Derek Ehnert said.

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The Ehnerts approached Hillsboro Public Schools Superintendent Paula Suda with the Cupcake of the Month plan, and she was happy to help them carry it out. The school district doesn’t turn away students whose balances are unpaid from lunch, so the school absorbs the cost, Suda said. The district office communicates to families through the lunch program alerts, emails, texts and personal phone calls to inform them about their child’s lunch balance, she said.

“Unfortunately, some are going through hard times and are having difficulties with paying at that time,” Suda said.

The Ehnerts don’t inquire about which students receive the donations.

“Our only stipulation is that it helps the lunch program,” Derek Ehnert said.

During the first month of the Cupcake of the Month program, Kate Ehnert made about 600 cupcakes.

“It was just mind-blowing,” Ehnert said.

The Ehnerts’ donations raised awareness about the Hillsboro School District’s unpaid lunch balances, and soon other organizations and individuals also began donating, Suda said.

For example, one school employee held a garage sale and gave proceeds to the Angel Lunch Fund, Suda said. Other parents have donated the unused funds of the accounts of children who have graduated. Other have dropped off checks at the high school.

Meanwhile, Kate Ehnert also donated proceeds from the sales of pictures painted by her uncle, an artist, to the Angel Lunch Fund.

During the past 11 months since the program was founded, $5,165 has been donated to the Hillsboro Public Schools Angel Lunch Fund. The majority of that amount is from the Ehnerts, Suda said. The donations have reduced the unpaid lunch balance to $2,700.

It’s gratifying for the Ehnerts to see the Hillsboro community throw its support behind their program.

“I love to hear when people bring friends or family to the cafe and they’re like ‘You’ve got to buy a cupcake because that goes to the school,’” Kate Ehnert said. Meanwhile, some customers don’t buy cupcakes, but give cash donations to pass on to the school.

While knowing that the cupcake proceeds are helping children is enough thanks, the Ehnerts are touched when they hear from someone who has benefited from it.

“Recently, someone said ‘We were the recipient of the lunch money. Thank you,’’’ Kate Ehnert said. “That brought me to tears.”

“The Hillsboro School District is fortunate that we have local businesses and community members that are looking out for others in need. Kate and Derek are taking away income to their business in order to give back to the community, and we feel very special that they have discovered this program for our students,” Suda said.

“We are truly fortunate to have such great community support for our students, like this Angel Lunch Fund program,” she said.

Source: Thanks https://www.grandforksherald.com/lifestyle/4951974-Hillsboro-Cafe-and-Bakery-is-reducing-the-communitys-unpaid-school-lunch-balance-one-cupcake-at-a-time