From left, Caroline Dylewski, director of nutrition services for Warren Consolidated Schools; TJ Gartner, assistant member center manager for Community Choice Credit Union’s Warren Member Center; Jeremy Cybulski, community engagement manager at Community Choice; and Kari Elenbass, chief financial officer for Warren Consolidated Schools, take a moment together. Community Choice Credit Union recently paid off students’ lunch debt at two WCS schools.

From left, Caroline Dylewski, director of nutrition services for Warren Consolidated Schools; TJ Gartner, assistant member center manager for Community Choice Credit Union’s Warren Member Center; Jeremy Cybulski, community engagement manager at Community Choice; and Kari Elenbass, chief financial officer for Warren Consolidated Schools, take a moment together. Community Choice Credit Union recently paid off students’ lunch debt at two WCS schools.

Photo provided by Community Choice Credit Union


Local credit union helps to feed children

By: Maria Allard | C&G Newspapers | Published July 2, 2020

 Community Choice Credit Union Shelby Township Member Center Manager Dani Grinnell, center, presents a check for $2,127.49 to Macomb Intermediate School District Food Service Consultant Carolyn Thomas, left, and MISD Superintendent Michael DeVault.

Community Choice Credit Union Shelby Township Member Center Manager Dani Grinnell, center, presents a check for $2,127.49 to Macomb Intermediate School District Food Service Consultant Carolyn Thomas, left, and MISD Superintendent Michael DeVault.

Photo provided by Community Choice Credit Union

 Community Choice Credit Union paid off $2,224.98 in lunch bills for 142 students in Lake Shore Public Schools. Pictured, from left, are Veronica Campbell, LSPS administrative assistant; Nicole Zimmerman, Community Choice’s St. Clair Shores member center manager; and Tina Morris, LSPS food service director.

Community Choice Credit Union paid off $2,224.98 in lunch bills for 142 students in Lake Shore Public Schools. Pictured, from left, are Veronica Campbell, LSPS administrative assistant; Nicole Zimmerman, Community Choice’s St. Clair Shores member center manager; and Tina Morris, LSPS food service director.

Photo provided by Community Choice Credit Union

METRO DETROIT — Lunch is on us.

That was how members of Community Choice Credit Union continued its tradition of helping local school children.

The credit union recently donated more than $43,000 to pay off overdue meal bills for nearly 4,000 students whose families weren’t able to pay for their school lunches.

In Macomb County alone, a total of 410 students recently had their bills settled. Payments were made to the Macomb Intermediate School District for $2,127.47; to Warren Consolidated Schools for $2,090.90 for two elementary schools; and $2,224.98 to St. Clair Shores Lake Shore Public Schools for two elementary schools. The donations were paid on behalf of students not on the state of Michigan’s free and reduced lunch program.

In addition to the Macomb County schools, arrangements were made to pay off bills for schools in Farmington Hills, Ferndale, Holland, Livonia, Wayne Westland, Michigan Center, Milford, Northville and Spring Arbor. The bills ranged from $250 to just over $3,800.

Community Choice Credit Union, headquartered in Farmington Hills, has 21 branches in the state. Community Choice Community Engagement Manager Jeremy Cybulski said the balances were from the 2019-2020 school year and previous years.

The funds to pay off the lunch debts came from the credit union’s Community Outreach Fund that had been earmarked for community events that were canceled earlier this year due to COVID-19. Since those funds weren’t being utilized, the credit union found another use for them.

“We wanted to find a meaningful way to use a portion of those dollars,” Cybulski said. “The credit union was able to assist 4,045 families. In addition to that, this takes a burden off the school, as well.”

The donations come at a time when many parents were laid off because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is likely going to be an extraordinary start to the school year after last year ended so abruptly. There’s so much uncertainty going into this school year,”  Cybulski said. “On top of that, you have the added expenses of starting a school year, like purchasing school supplies, uniforms or new clothes for growing kids. So if we can remove the stress of also having to pay off a school lunch bill from last year, we’re happy to do it.”

When Community Choice contacted Warren Consolidated Schools about helping with the lunch debt, district Director of Nutrition Services Caroline Dylewski told them, “We’d be happy to take a donation.”

“Some students had debt from previous years. Partnerships and donations are greatly appreciated,” Dylewski said. “Any small amount of kindness can help anybody at this point, especially in these trying times.”

WCS usually has to absorb about $150,000 due to lunch debt from students who can’t pay.

“Our superintendent (Robert Livernois) does not want any child not to be provided a meal,” Dylewski said. “It ensures no child is denied a meal.”

Because of Community Choice’s generosity, overdue lunch bills for all students at Harwood and Jefferson elementary schools were paid for in WCS.