When father of three, Jeffery Lew, set out to raise funds to erase his son's school lunch debt, he had no idea he'd start such a helpful movement for children all over his county.
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Seattle, Washington resident Lew told ABC News that he has been disheartened by all the 'lunch shaming' he's seen done to children all over the country. Some children get stamped on their arms like prisoners "I owe lunch money," and others actually have the lunches they are unable to pay for thrown away right in front of them and their peers. Lew said that as a father, he is heartbroken that children have to face this through no fault of their own.
Initially, Lew set up a Gofundme account to help eliminate the $97 owed to his 8-year-old son's school for lunches. Lew says that he hit his goal very quickly, and then the community came together and added more and more. To date, over $25,000 has been raised as Lew has expanded his goal of paying his son's debt and now wants to eliminate school lunch debt all over Washington State.
He cites stories of workers like Stacy Koltiska from Pennsylvania, who had to take a hot lunch away from a child who was behind in his lunch account and Dalene Bowden from Idaho who was actually fired because she gave a meal to a hungry student unable to pay for lunch.
For his district, Lew says that no student is denied an entire lunch if they don't have any money, and they are given milk and fruit, but he wants to make sure that lunch debt is never a reason a hungry child doesn't get a hot meal on a consistent basis.
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The school district is honored by the community's generosity and says that any money given in excess of the current $21,000 lunch debt will go toward erasing future debt.
Lew is continuing his campaign, saying that sometimes, parents are just so busy with work and life that they may forget to send lunch money, or they could just be in private financial struggles and can't afford it. Not knowing what these children's families go through should have no impact on whether or not they have lunch, Lew says, and he's happy to give back to his community.
Lew hopes to eventually raise enough to give to each of Seattle's schools throughout the district, and then maybe even school lunch debts outside his district as well.