Fund to erase Seattle lunch debt gets boost from singer John Legend

SEATTLE -- A Seattle parent's GoFundMe campaign to erase school lunch debt got a boost over the weekend from a singing legend -- John Legend, in fact.

The Grammy-winning singer donated $5,000 to the campaign under the name "John Stephens," and if it wasn't for some sleuthing from campaign creator, Jeff Lew, no one would have been the wiser.

Lew told Q13 News, his wife is a John Legend superfan and recognized the name, John Stephens as the singer's birth name.

Using GoFundMe Lew said he sent the donor a message thanking him for his contribution and asking if he also is known as John Legend. The donor replied, "Yes, it's me."

Lew was floored but still thought the whole thing could be an expensive prank.

About an hour after the Seattle Times posted an article Sunday describing Lew's suspicions on the donor, there was a confirmation.

The singer tweeted, "My pleasure! We should have free lunch for all of our public students!"


Lew initially set out to raise $21,000, the rough estimate owed by students in Seattle's 99 public schools. As of Sunday evening, the campaign raised over $33,000. Lew's goal is now to raise $40,000.

Lew said he is working to raise money for Renton and Tacoma schools and could go further depending on what is raised.

We were first introduced to Lew earlier this month when he launched his campaign. He said if an elementary school student owes $15 from school lunches they ate, they would get a modified meal.

Lew called that "lunch-shaming” and set out to fix it.

The erase school lunch debt movement gained steam in May prompting a Bothell educator to launch a GoFundMe account to raise money for Everett schools.

Also, a couple donated $5,495 to pay off all the elementary school student lunch debts at the Marysville School District.

Tom and Christy Lee said the school district had done so much for them over the years that they wanted to give back.