Community members pay off food services debt for two schools

Several Goshen families recently received a very pleasant surprise: their child’s school meal debt had been paid off, through the kindness of their community.

Patty Capocciamo smiles at the camera.
School meal debt challenge co-captain and sixth grade teacher Patty Capocciamo.

The Goshen $5 Generosity Challenge was created about 18 months ago by community members looking to make a difference in the Goshen community.

The original idea came from the Rev. Susan Chupungco of the Goshen United Methodist Church, who handed out 60 envelopes, each containing a $5 bill, to her congregants and asked them to donate the money or pay-it-forward. Congregant Susan Armistead expanded upon the Reverend’s idea and took to social media to ask friends to each contribute $5 for a worthy cause – and the Goshen $5 Generosity Challenge was born.

Each month, a new idea is proposed for the $5 challenge based on different needs in the community, explained Sixth Grade Teacher Patty Capocciamo. Capocciamo volunteered to serve as co-captain for the school meal debt challenge, along with Erin Rice-Mills.

According to Capocciamo, the idea was inspired by a news article circulating on social media about a man who paid off the cafeteria debt in his local school in New Jersey. They contacted Food Services Director Alan Muhlnickel to inquire about the debt at all four schools, which totaled approximately $2,800.

The Goshen $5 Generosity Challenge logo.
The Goshen $5 Generosity Challenge logo.

After reaching out to friends on social media, the main line of communication for the challenge, Capocciamo, Rice-Mills and Armistead were able to collect $1,397, which covered the debt for Scotchtown Avenue Elementary School and Goshen High School.

“It’s wonderful to see our community come together to help each other,” said Capocciamo.

In the past, the $5 challenge has raised money for families in need during the holidays, helped purchase a service dog for a local disabled students, and made donations to the Goshen Ecumenical Food Pantry and Goshen Humane Society.

If you’d like to participate in the Goshen $5 Generosity Challenge or have an idea for a collection, find them on Facebook at or contact Patty Capocciamo at