After reading several gut-wrenching stories about school “lunch shaming,” one determined dad went on a mission to ensure every student at his son’s school was debt-free.
Within days, he met his goal. But he didn’t want to stop there.
Next up, Seattle Public Schools — the largest K-12 school district in the state of Washington.
“Let’s try for it,” Lew thought. “If you don’t try for something you don’t know if it’s going to happen or not.”
Lew called the district and asked them how much they owed. They gave him a number: $20,531.79, which would cover the lunch debt at all 99 schools within the district.
The amount was higher than Lew expected, but it didn’t deter him.
He quickly got to work, posting links to his fundraising campaign on local Facebook pages and asking parents if they would be interested in donating. Within 24 hours, Lew raised $500. Over the weekend, the funds grew to nearly $3,000.
“It was a little bit overwhelming,” Lew told CBS News. “It was quite amazing that the community came together to tackle this. Some people would say, ‘This guy’s a hero,’ but I’m just a guy who went online.”
Seattle dad Jeff Lew started a campaign to erase school lunch debt, and it went viral.
Any leftover money will go toward other school districts in need, Lew said, explaining that he plans to set up separate funds for each district.
“I want to keep this cause spreading, give back any way we can,” Lew said. “Maybe we can cover the state of Washington or help other parents create campaigns for their school districts — bring this nationwide.”
Seattle Public Schools thanked Lew and hundreds of strangers for their generosity, which will benefit thousands of students.
“The recent parent-organized campaign to pay down school lunch debt for Seattle Public Schools reflects the generosity of our families and communities,” Seattle Public Schools said in an emailed statement to CBS News. “As a district, we are committed to partnering with families and communities to provide students the best educational experience. Part of that experience is making sure all of our students have access to a healthy breakfast and lunch, whether they have money to pay for meals at the time or not.”