When Jupiter real estate agent for Echo Fine Properties, Andrew Levy, came across a Facebook post about a plea for help along with lunch debts for more than 400 students at schools in Jupiter, Florida, area, he said the news hit him in the heart.
The businessman felt the need to do something. For him, it was a no-brainer.
“I really believe it’s simple acts, simple gestures,” he said. “The thought of a fairly small sum being able to rectify that situation and clear the debt of all these families so the children could eat warm meals is really what got me.”
Levy said a lot of people would like to help but it was going to be too difficult to gather those people together, so he instead decided to pay the entire debt in full. “I’m going to clear the first debt,” he said.
Levy added that he hopes others will follow suit.
He even took it a step further and met directly with the food service department for the School District of Palm Beach County.
“I didn’t want to just write a check and mail it in. I wanted to meet the people, I wanted to make sure every dollar I was giving them was going to the Jupiter schools,” he said.
Angie Vyas-Knight, who helps manage the Jupiter Mamas Facebook group, was the person who posted the call for help on Facebook after finding out that many children across the country accrue debt from not being able to pay for lunch. She hoped that multiple people could donate to cover the nearly $1,000 owed in lunch debt.
That’s why when Vyas-Knight found out about the donation this week, she was moved.
“I think it’s amazing that with all of the trouble and bad things you hear about on a daily basis, that you can still look in your local community and find someone who is willing to give back and to enrich the nature of our community,” she said.
She already heard from teachers the impact it was making on the children.
“One of her students was so excited in class because she got to tell her teacher that she finally got a hot meal this year,” she said.
According to Allison Monbleau, the director of the district’s school food service department, students who carry a lunch debt are not denied food. They will have turkey and cheese sandwich if they are elementary schools, and will be able to keep their sides and drink on their tray. High school students receive a cheese sandwich and their choice of milk or juice.
“There’s that stigma that children can get if they walk away with a cheese sandwich, everyone knows what that means,” Levy said, worrying that there would be self-esteem for children seen with a certain meal.
WFTS Tampa Bay reported that despite continued donations from the community, Palm Beach County students still carry more than $51,000 in outstanding lunch debts across the entire district.
The hope is that more donations will come in.
Levy is now starting an online fundraiser so that more people can easily donate throughout the year to lower the lunch debts, according to WFTS TAMPA BAY.