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Texas Man Pays Lunch Bills So No Kid Will Be Singled Out With ‘Debtor’s Lunch’

In late January, students at Uintah Elementary in Utah had their school lunches snatched out of their hands and trashed in front of them because they had unpaid balances on their school lunch bill.  In place of lunch, they were given only milk and a piece of fruit.

The school said it had notified parents of the balances beforehand, but admitted that decision to single out children for their parents’ debts and force them to go hungry was not the best way to handle the situation.

“We understand the feelings of upset parents and students who say this was an embarrassing and humiliating situation,” the Utah school district said after the move caused lunchtime chaos  and crying children. “We again apologize and commit to working with parents in rectifying this situation and to ensuring students are never treated in this manner again.”

Now one Houston man, outraged by Utah’s school actions, has stepped up to make sure no child at the Texas elementary school he tutors in will be embarrassed or hungry because their parents cannot pay.

Kenny Thompson has long donated his time and energies to improve the lives of Valley Oak Elementary School kids. When he learned that children at his Houston school were denied a hot lunch when their families owed money and given a cold sandwich instead, he decided the policy was wrong.

Then he realized many kids who had been singled out  came from families struggling to put food on the table  and that the kids were avoiding lunch line completely rather than be embarrassed by the ‘debtor’s lunch.’ Thompson knew he had to take action.

“These are elementary school kids,” Thompson said. “They don’t need to be worried about finances. They need to be worried about what grade they got in spelling.”

Digging into his own pocket, Thompson paid off the lunch bill of 60 needy children to help the kids get back the confidence and nutrition they need to succeed in school.

Thompson stressed that the $465 he spent was worth it. “When I left the building knowing that they were getting fed, they didn’t have that stress,” Thompson smiled. “The best money I ever spent.”

Photo Credit: KPRC/Screenshot



About the author

Tamar is a New York based freelance writer and photographer whose work has appeared in over 15 publications. You can catch her work regularly on Issue Hawk, Latest, Jspace, and MediaGlobal.