Tacoma’s school lunch debt wiped out thanks to Seattle dad

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TACOMA, Wash. -- A project to erase school lunch debt in Tacoma is a success!

America's Credit Union employees donated $7,735 last week giving the campaign the final boost it needed to reach it's $30,000 goal.

Last month, Jeff Lew started a GoFundMe campaign to erase school lunch debt in his son's elementary school, but after seeing the success of the campaign he expanded it to include all public schools in Seattle, Tacoma, Renton, and Spokane.

All together Lew's erase school lunch debt campaigns have raised $91,573 as of Monday morning.

The campaign has also attracted the attention of singer John Legend who donated $5,000 to the Seattle campaign.

"It gets people going; gets people mad," Lew said. "Why are the kids going hungry?"

Lew, who is a father of three children, said he heard stories of students being given a different lunch, or no lunch at all if their school lunch account is in the red.

This practice is called lunch shaming. It's grabbed headlines in recent weeks prompting a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House and Senate to introduced the Anti-Lunch Shaming Act of 2017.

"We want schools to work with parents, not target the student, to address outstanding lunch payments," says Republican Congressman Rodney Davis of Illinois, a co-sponsor of the bill.

In April, New Mexico became the first state to ban all lunch shaming.

"No one believes we do this to kids," says Jenny Ramo, executive director of New Mexico Appleseed, a nonprofit that works to eliminate poverty. It's "barbaric."

Lew said he knew he had to help and now he is determined to find a better long-term solution.

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