Q&A with Kara Gloe, PB&J School Lunch Fundraiser Organizer

PB&J, craft beer and a good cause - what’s not to love? Next week, some awesome local folks are hosting a PB&J School Lunch Fundraiser to benefit Moorhead Public Schools. We sat down with lead-organizer, Kara Gloe, to learn more about the fundraiser, why our schools need financial help, and what our community can do to support school meals for all.

Ugly Food: Hey Kara! Thanks for taking the time to chat. First, can you tell us a little about yourself?

Kara: I’m originally from a small town in South Dakota. I went to college at the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities and have a degree in public relations. I’ve lived in Fargo-Moorhead area for about 6 years. I have two daughters - one who’s just about 7 and the other is 5. I work for the City of Fargo as an Assistant City Planner in Community Development, and I also serve as Moorhead Public Schools School Board Member.

Ugly Food: You’re a passionate advocate for schools, but what led to your interest in supporting and advocating for school lunch?

Kara: Last summer, I was chatting with some friends about a recent news story related to debt in F-M-WF area schools. The article raised a question asking if the debt was due to refugees. I had just worked on the Refugee Resettlement Report and was pretty fired up about refugee blaming and the perception in the community. I started doing some research on the general topic of school debt and found some other news stories, one in particular, that called out Moorhead Public Schools for having more debt than other area schools. As I continued to research, I realized Moorhead Public Schools did run more debt - because they give kids a hot meal, regardless of their ability to pay or amount of debt they carry. In other schools, they might provide an “alternative meal,” which is typically a sandwich and cup of fruit, if students lunch debt is too high. It really bothered me that Moorhead Schools were being called out for doing, what I felt, was the right thing.  My friend suggested I host a fundraiser to benefit Moorhead Schools and that’s where the idea of hosting a fundraiser came from!

(Note: Last November the U.S.D.A. changed their position on “alternative meals” and recommends that all schools offer a hot meal, regardless of payment. Other area schools have since changed their policy. You can read more here.)

Ugly Food: That’s awesome! We love hearing about folks who get fired up on an issue and take action! So you hosted your first fundraiser last summer with Junkyard Brewing Company. Can you tell us about that?

 Volunteers prepare sandwiches for the inaugural fundraising event last year. 

Volunteers prepare sandwiches for the inaugural fundraising event last year. 

Kara: Around the same time I decided to host a fundraiser, I was serendipitously having lots of conversations with people about how much they love Junkyard Brewing Company. I’m personally not a big beer drinker, but everyone kept talking about how amazing their beer was. When I checked out Junkyard’s menu, I saw they had a beer called Peanut Butter Bandit and the idea was born: I’m gonna host a Peanut Butter & Jelly School Lunch Fundraiser while we drink Peanut Butter Bandit beer at Junkyard Brewing - It’s perfect!

I met with Junkyard and they immediately said yes. My fellow organizer, Heather Nesemeier, called Cass Clay Creamery, because you gotta have milk with a PB&J, and they donated 600 cartons of milk!  We hosted our first PB&J School Lunch Fundraiser on July 22 as a PB&J Cook-Off. People were encouraged to bring different takes on the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich and got some really unique entries - a PB&J salsa, PB&J pizza, and PB&J shakes. It was awesome. We chose winners with local celebrity judges and a people’s choice winner. We also did a silent auction and all together raised $3,700 for Moorhead Public Schools!

Ugly Food: That’s so great! We love this fundraiser and are curious what else our community can do to provide a hot lunch for all kids, regardless of ability to pay?

Kara: I’m not sure how feasible this is, but there are cities that fund school meals with local taxes. For example, New York City recently moved to provide lunches to kids at no charge. However, I fully recognize that our local businesses, homeowners, and farmers already have a sizeable tax burden and are doing their part. Local taxes is just one idea. I think this fundraiser is a good way to raise awareness and hopefully motivate more people to take action in some way.  

Ugly Food: You’ve got an event coming up on April 28th! Tell us about it.

Kara: April 28th is the PB&J School Lunch Fundraiser #2 from 12-4 p.m. at Junkyard Brewing Company (1416 1st Ave N., Moorhead). This year we’re providing PB&J sandwiches for a free will offering, complimentary milk from Cass Clay Creamery, and buy your own beer (of course!). We’re also gonna play some bingo, have a raffle with some sweet items, and hopefully raise lots of money for our school. (P.S. - A Little Free Garden Starter Kit + Poster is one of the raffle items!).

Ugly Food: Lastly, and most importantly, what’s your favorite school lunch?

Kara: My favorite school lunch was definitely chili. On chili day, we got these giant homemade cinnamon rolls with frosting. They were so good! Those were the best school lunch days!

Ugly Food: Thanks so much for chatting with us Kara!

We can’t wait for the PB&J School Lunch Fundraiser #2 and hope to see lots of Ugly Food friends there!