This Awesome Dad Has Raised Almost $50,000 To Stop Schools From Lunch Shaming Poor Kids
Donors to the cause include an NFL team and John Legend.
This story is part of Nudge for Change’s “Everyday Wins Against Trump” series, which documents examples of love trumping hate, small actions making a big difference, and victories for the #ResistTrump movement in the U.S. and around the world (because we could all use a little extra hope and inspiration right now).
In public schools throughout much of the U.S., kids who can’t afford to buy food are often subjected to “school lunch shaming”—they’re denied food, singled out with wristbands or stamps, given an alternate meal, or even forced to clean tables in exchange for their lunch.
In Seattle, one dad of a public school student is determined to put an end to that.
After reading an article about school lunch shaming in May, Jeffrey Lew launched a GoFundMe campaign to pay off existing lunch debts for kids in the Seattle Public School District.
“Reading that article was really awful,” Lew told NBC News. “It broke my heart because I was thinking if that was my son at school, and they forced him to clean tables or toss food away, I’d be a very angry parent. No kid should be shamed regardless of if they have money to buy lunch.”
Initially, Lew set a goal of $20,000 to cover the existing lunch debt for Seattle Public School District. Within five days, donations had exceeded that amount, so Lew raised the goal to $50,000 to help cover the cost of future school lunch debt in the district.
The fundraising campaign, which will conclude at the end of June, has now raised over $48,000, and has garnered donations from singer-songwriter John Legend, the Seattle Seahawks, and the Safeway Foundation.
Of course, in an ideal world, all students in public schools would have access to free, nutritious meals everyday — something that’s unlikely to happen given the major cuts being made to the Education Department. We should absolutely keep working to create a world in which this isn’t an issue left to generous celebrities and sports teams to solve. But in the meantime, people like Lew, who refuse to let kids suffer over politics by taking matters into their own hands, are an inspiration.
“As a parent and graduate of the Seattle Public Schools, I am trying to help ease the burden of these families and make sure these children get to eat a nutritious meal each day at school,” Lew wrote on the Crowdfunding page. “I used to look forward to school lunches each day. I am sure these children feel the same!”
The campaign has been so successful, Lew has launched campaigns to erase the lunch debt at two neighboring school districts, Renton and Tacoma. The campaign for Tacoma Public Schools has already hit its goal. Lew’s efforts have also inspired others to launch a campaign to erase the lunch debt at nearby Everett School District.
“It would be amazing if we could get the whole state of Washington paid off,” Lew said.
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