Recently, Parentology reported on Chobani founder Hamdi Ulukaya stepping up to pay $50,000 to Warwick Public Schools in Providence, Rhode Island to cover the students’ $77K lunch debt. Our hearts melted at his generosity. Now that we’ve learned about nine-year-old Ryan Kyote from Napa, California using his allowance to pay off his classmates’ $74.80 lunch debt, we’re a puddle of emotion.
What spurred Kyote’s actions: a five-year-old Indiana student being denied lunch due to lack of money.
Social media went wild, and Senator Bernie Sanders summed up those feelings via a recent tweet.
Sadly, Kyote, who attends West Park Elementary School in Napa, California, has also come under fire for his actions. His mother, Kylie Kirkpatrick, posted this on her Facebook page:
“I want to address an issue that has come up via a few local people who are not happy with all of this positive attention. After Ryan made his donation, I felt bad that we could not afford to cover the debt for the other grades at his school. It was suggested to start a Go Fund Me (GFM) page which we did and collected $100. We realized that crowd-sourcing was not going to solve the national issue, so the GFM was shut down and deleted. Money raised from that was donated to another family.”
“It’s deeply concerning that the people who are raising this drama come from stable and secure socioeconomic backgrounds and can provide for their families without question. I hope those people understand that we are speaking for the children who do not come from their position of power and privilege. Ryan has done something absolutely incredible and nobody should be taking away from that.”
The School Nutrition Association reports that each day 30 million US students in 100,000 schools/educational institutions are provided meals under the federal National School Lunch Program. Approximately 20 million of these meals are free, with 7.7 million paid in full, and 1.8 million students are served at a reduced price. Still, there are students who go hungry.
In a New York Times article, Attorney General of New York Leticia James said, “For many of our students, the meals they receive at school are the only hot nutritious meals they eat during the day. And access to healthy and nutritious food should never be determined by your ZIP code or your socioeconomic status.”
Ulukaya taking on the Warwick Public Schools’ debt found a reversal of the district’s decision to deny students hot lunches and give them peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Still, reports continue to crop up regarding the Trump administration’s cuts and rollbacks to school lunch standards.
Who will solve the issue of children in the US going hungry while at school? For now, angels like Ulukaya and Kyote are inspiring a nation and leading the way.
People: 9-Year-Old Boy Pays Off School Lunch Debt for Classmates — and Sparks a National Discussion
Bernie Sanders’ Twitter page @BernieSanders
Kylie Kirkpatrick’s Facebook page
School Nutrition Association
The New York Times: Trump Administration Sued Over Rollback of School Lunch Standards
APNews: Company comes to aid of students offered jelly sandwiches