Storeowner seeks to eliminate WCS lunch fund debt with fundraiser

Nathan underneath (L) is pictured with Morgan Conn, a resident artist at Moving Pictures Tattoo Cinema in Warsaw. They're seen with voucher tickets, a donation jar and samples of food-related art specifically designed for the fundraiser arranged to offset a $13,000 debt in the Warsaw Schools lunch program that provides free and reduced lunches. News Now Warsaw photo by Dan Spalding.
By Dan Spalding
News Now Warsaw

WARSAW — Nathan Underneath makes a living by making a mark in society as a tattoo artist, but would like to make a bigger mark on the community in another way.

Underneath is the owner owner of Moving Pictures Tattoo Cinema in downtown Warsaw and said he was stunned to realize that families that participate in the free or reduced lunch program in Warsaw Community Schools have racked up a $13,00 debt and that the backup fund — known as the Angel Fund — is empty.

With that in mind, Underneath has organized an effort to eliminate the debt and assist the families.

Part of it involves local artists selling tattoos specifically featuring food with proceeds going to the effort. Anyone interested is encouraged to show up Sunday night at his studio.

But much of the fundraiser involves a plea by Underneath for donations from local businesses and individuals.

So far, he’s secured $500 from Biryani Kitchen and support from Panda Express, which has made available 100 free meal vouchers to anyone donating $20 at the Moving Pictures Tattoo Cinema, 112 E. Center St., Warsaw.

The Lab, just down the street from Underneath’s store, is also accepting donations.

A $20 donation can cover the cost of 50 meals, he said.

The Warsaw Schools Angel Fund is supported by anonymous donors and other programs such as fundraisers by law enforcement.

Underneath points out people can also donate directly to the school district’s food services department.

Roughly 50 percent of students are on the free or reduced lunche program in the district.

The Angel fund contributes 50-50 match to help offset debts incurred by families.

“The idea is to encourage families to not be overwhelmed by the debt that has been incurred, but to encourage them to pay their own debt with the assistance of the public — it’s not supposed to be a handout,” Underneath said.

Undernearth’s tattoo studio opened nearly five years ago and is still the only sanctioned tattoo business in the downtown. When he won zoning approval for the business, he promised to work to benefit the community and he’s done that often through downtown activities and supporting other projects.

He said he realizes those who have seen him at downtown events see him as the guy with a mohawk and a bright smile, but he said he wants to make a difference.

Underneath, is also an ambassador for the Kosciusko Chamber of Commerce, and is seeking support from local businesses.

Underneath said he was stunned to learn of the situation.

“As far as kids going without food in this community, I just don’t think that should happen – like ever – and $13,000 is a very achievable goal for the amount that comes through this town,” he said.

The fundraiser continues through April.

During the pandemic, all lunches were free, but that program ended at the start of the 2022-2023 school year at a time when some families were still struggling to make ends meet.

“We’ve definitely seen that need rise,” said Warsaw Community Schools Superintendent Dr. David Hoffert.

Hoffert said families will appreciate the support.

“It’s a group that found a need and stepped up and is really addressing the need and it’s just very kind of the community to do that,” he said.

Look for updates on the project at the business’s Facebook page.