School lunch debts are being erased in Seattle, Everett and Marysville

SEATTLE -- The erase school lunch debt movement is spreading to Snohomish County. A Seattle father made headlines last week when he started a fundraiser calling for an end to "lunch shaming."

Jeffery Lew launched a GoFundMe page with a goal to raise $21,000. He said that was what the Seattle School District owes in school lunch debt. Five days later, Lew surpassed that goal.

Many students come to school without a lunch and without money to buy one. When the cafeteria gives them a meal, they rack up a debt and their families receive an invoice from the district to pay the debt.

"It broke my heart. It's awful," Lew told Q13 News. "I always feel that no child should ever go hungry due to not having money. Because, you know, they're children. They can't work some don't even know what the concept of money is."

Lew said if an elementary school student is $15 in debt they can have emergency food, but only for three days.

The rule is the same for middle school students except they are cut-off when they owe $10. High school students don't get a break at all. If they owe money, they don't get any food.

Being inspired by Lew, an educator in Bothell launched her own erase school lunch debt intuitive for Everett schools. Sarah Lenaburg set that goal at $5,500.

Last Friday, 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.

The movement isn't new. In 2016, Amber Clark launched a GoFundMe page to help pay off the school lunch debts of kids in the Shoreline School District.

And in January 2017, Jill Bysegger launched a similar GoFundMe page to eliminate the school lunch debt for students in the Anacortes School District.