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John Legend Pays Off $5,000 in School Lunch Debt for 99 Seattle Schools

Lunch debt accrues when parents fill out meal applications that will allow children to eat meals at school
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The donation was the largest contributed by a single donor to date.

Lunch shaming is a real, hidden crisis affecting not only children’s health but also entire school systems, as many families find themselves going deeper and deeper into debt. A GoFundMe page created by Seattle, Washington, resident Jeff Lew to “erase Seattle school lunch debt” has even caught the attention of singer John Legend, who made a $5,000 donation to the cause.

Nationally, 76 percent of school districts in America have children with school lunch debt, and the consequences for these students can be painful. Some schools exchange hot meals for cold cheese sandwiches and milk, while others give indebted students nothing to eat at all, CNN reported.

According to the campaign, the Seattle school district had $20,531.79 worth of debt as of May 9, with 36 percent of its students on free or reduced-priced meal programs.

Although Legend doesn’t have ties to the city (aside from wife Chrissy Teigen having grown up in nearby Snohomish, Washington), he took the initiative to donate to the cause after seeing the campaign on Twitter, The Seattle Times reported.

“I thought, ‘It could be him, let’s try sending him a personalized note,’” Lew told The Seattle Times.

Through GoFundMe, Lew emailed Legend to confirm that it really was him, to which the singer replied, “Yes, it’s me.” Legend also tweeted to Lew saying, “We should have free lunch for all of our public students!”

The campaign has reached over $40,000 to date, nearing its goal of $50,000.

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For tips on packing a school lunch your kid will actually eat, click here.