The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Hundreds of students said goodbye to their lunch debt thanks to one man’s donation

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A real estate agent donated nearly $1,000 to pay off the school lunch debt of 430 students in Jupiter, Fla., earning praise from the local community.

Andrew Levy’s $944.34 gift wiped out the debt for all nine schools in the city, which is part of the Palm Beach County school district.

“I thought, you know something? If for a modest sum I could make that change, I’m gonna do it,” Levy told a local CBS affiliate.

Food at an elementary school was going to waste. Now, it goes home with needy children.

Palm Beach school district spokeswoman Julie Houston Trieste confirmed the donation to The Washington Post. She noted that while students were still served lunch and other free meals even if they had outstanding lunch balances, donations could still help families unable to pay.

This isn’t the first time a member of the community has stepped up to pay off lunch debt. According to Trieste, an anonymous donor paid $5,000 earlier this year.

With the total amount of lunch debt for the school district coming to about $50,000, “There’s still definitely a need there for sure,” Trieste said.

The school district’s website provides instructions for how individuals can donate funds to reduce student lunch debt. Last year, $21,000 in donations helped 4,000 students pay off their lunch debts, according to the district.

Trieste said while Levy’s act of kindness had not set off a wave of donations, she said individuals had expressed interest in starting GoFundMe accounts or had reached out to the school district to find out how they could contribute funds of their own.

School district to parents: Pay your lunch debt or your children might wind up in foster care

Levy told local media that the October donation would not be his last.

“I’m going to do either a GoFundMe page or a fundraising page that can raise money every quarter, so lunch debt never accumulates so that children never have to worry about a hot meal and parents never have to worry about paying the bill,” he told CBS12.

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