A Blue Springs program to help make sure students get a good breakfast and lunch got a major boost Thursday.

The Blue Springs Chamber of Commerce graduated its 2014 Leadership class – an annual learning-and-networking program – at its monthly luncheon Thursday, and the class presented a check for $10,934 for Food for Thought, much of it raised at an event at the Blue Springs 8 Theatre.

“Our event, Rolling Out the Red Carpet for Food for Thought, was a really fun and well-attended event,” said Sgt. Colby Lalli of the Blue Springs Police Department, one of the more than 20 members of the Leadership group.

Leadership runs basically in line with the school year. Participants take a day a month to visit local businesses and government sites. They typically adopt a project. This group stuffed backpacks for the homeless, helped out around the Community Services League office, sponsored a child in the Shop with the Cop program at Christmastime and helped Food for Thought.

Dale Walkup of the Blue Springs Board of Education is involved with the annual community prayer breakfast. The idea there isn’t to raise money, but donations come in, and organizers sent that to Food for Thought. Walkup and Judy Quackenbush kept pushing the program, and the idea took off.

“If you have an idea and you don’t care who gets credit for it, success is so much sweeter,” Walkup said.

Food for Thought works like this: There are hundreds of families in the school district that make too much money for their kids to qualify for free or reduced-price meals, yet they can’t afford to pay for breakfast or lunch at school, at least not all of it.

These are “people that are working, and trying to make things work,” Leadership class member Shannon Sundberg, director of advancement for the Truman Heartland Community Foundation, said in a class video.

Food for Thought makes up the difference. Thursday’s check should be enough for the upcoming school year and beyond, officials said.

The Community Services League sponsored Thursday’s chamber luncheon. Blue Springs site manager Melodie Chrisman said poverty is up sharply in Eastern Jackson County, and she encouraged people to help.

“We are fully donation driven,” she said.

Many families, she said, are going to bed hungry.

“And it is happening in every neighborhood in Blue Springs,” she said.

The CSL required that those who get help take job-seeking classes and get out to look for work.

“We want people to be responsible for themselves,” she said. “We want them to be self-sufficient.”