About this episode:

“In 2017, I was just driving down the street and I heard this interview on NPR and it was about this child in New Mexico who had gone to get a school lunch. And he walked up to the cash register with his meal in his hands, and it turned out that he didn’t have enough money in his account to pay for the lunch. So, the lunch lady took the meal out of his hands and threw it in the trash right in front of him, and, gave him an alternative meal like a cold cheese sandwich instead of the healthy meal—one that had already been served that they couldn’t give to anybody else. And instead of letting that child eat that meal, they threw it away. And they did it in front of him. You know, of course, that the child is going to be traumatized by that.”

-Adelle Settle, Founder of Settle The Debt

She already does meaningful work as an attorney for a federal government agency.

But as mom to an elementary school-aged child in Virginia’s second-largest school system, Adelle Settle discovered that thousands of kids in her community often go hungry, because they, their parents, or caregivers cannot afford to re-pay their outstanding student lunch debt.

Adelle could not sit idly by; she founded Settle the Debt, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that pays off the unpaid school lunch accounts in her community.

In this episode, Adelle describes:

  • How, as a very young child, she developed a strong social conscience [starts at 2:27]
  • The mission of Settle the Debt [starts at 19:57]
  • What happens to a student who lacks proper nutrition [starts at 27:19]
  • Her work with elected officials to pass “anti-food shaming” legislation [starts at 34:36]

About our guest:

Settle the Debt founder Adelle Settle and host of The Tightrope Podcast Dan Smolen

Adelle Settle is a Senior Attorney Analyst with the Social Security Administration in Washington, D.C. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Albion College, and a Juris Doctorate from George Mason University. Adelle and her family live in Prince William County, Virginia.

EPISODE DATE: December 27, 2019

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Photo credits: Child with school lunch, iStock Photo; In front of school building, Adelle Settle; Adelle Settle and Dan Smolen at school building (11/2019), Adelle Settle