John Legend Puts Thousands Towards Seattle School Lunch Debt

John Legend Puts Thousands Towards Seattle School Lunch Debt

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Beloved singer and songwriter John Legend has just helped to ensure that Seattle students won’t go hungry while at school.

His quiet contribution of $5,000 towards a GoFundMe page raising money to pay off student lunch debt in the Seattle Public Schools district is being hailed as a grand gesture of compassion throughout Washington state.

The crowdfunding campaign, which was originally started by John Lew, was created with a goal of $20,000 – enough to pay off any and all lunch debt wracked up by families who can’t afford to pay for their children’s lunches.

So when Lew saw that someone had contributed a quarter of the goal in one donation over the weekend, he was blown away. The $5,000 had come from a donor named John Stephens.

CHECK OUTNew Mexico to Pass First Law Prohibiting “Lunch Shaming”

After doing some quick Google sleuthing in an effort to thank the donor, he found that John Stephens was the birth name of rock and roll musician John Legend.

Lew then composed a thank you note with a quick addendum before his signature saying: “By the way, are you also known as John Legend? Regardless of who you are or not, thank you. You’ve helped a lot.”

Legend soon responded with “Yes, it’s me.”

Lew then took to Twitter to publicly thank the singer, to which the Grammy-award winning musician replied: “My pleasure! We should have free lunch for all of our public students!”

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Since the story has gotten such widespread media attention, the crowdfunding page has now raised $41,000. All the additional funds will go towards paying nutritious student meals in the future.

In Seattle, students who wrack up over $15 in lunch debt are reportedly given modified lunches consisting of less nutritious components, such as dry white bread with cold cheese. This policy has been called an act of “lunch shaming”.

Lunch shaming is considered the practice of shaming or humiliating school children who are behind on their meal fees. Examples of this practice have surfaced around the country; one boy in Alabama was reportedly sent home with a stamp on his arm reading: “I need lunch money”. Lunch ladies have been forced to throw out students’ hot meals because they didn’t have enough funds on their student accounts. Other schools have made children wipe down tables and wash dishes as payment for their meals.

Though there has been no talk of higher-level action protecting children from this kind of treatment, New Mexico is reportedly on its way to becoming the first state to pass legislation prohibiting lunch shaming.

In the mean time, however, Lew has started additional crowdfunding campaigns for the Tacoma and Renton school districts as well. Tacoma has already raised $20,000 of its $30,000 goal, while the Renton campaign has reached about half of its attempted $18,000.

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(Photo by Benny Chandra, CC)

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