A Seattle man is trying to erase school lunch debt in Tacoma.
Jeff Lew’s GoFundMe campaign is a response to recent news coverage of “lunch shaming.”
Holding children publicly accountable for unpaid school lunch bills — by throwing away their food, providing a less desirable alternative lunch or branding them with markers — often is referred to as lunch shaming.
Lew, who raised more than $25,000 to cover the meal debt of Seattle’s schools, is trying to erase the deficit parents have with the Tacoma School District.
“I am trying to help ease the burden of the Tacoma families and make sure these children get to eat a nutritious meal each day at school,” said Lew, a 33-year-old parent. “I used to look forward to school lunches each day.”
As of Thursday, the Tacoma district had a meal debt of $20,437, district spokeswoman Kathryn McCarthy said.
Lew’s campaign to cut the debt had raised $5,617 as of Sunday.
There are 17,738 students enrolled in the district’s free or reduced price meal program.
“If a student has reached the charge limit, they are offered an emergency meal of a sandwich and milk,” McCarthy said.
From the beginning of the current school year to Wednesday, the district served 2,349,667 lunches and 956,481 breakfasts, she said. It also began a dinner program this month.
Lew, meanwhile, doesn’t want any kid to have a reduced meal because of debt.
“It is an awful thing and it should not be happening,” he said. “Children need to eat regardless if they have money or not.”
The New York Times contributed to this report.