When Andrew Levy discovered children who could barely afford their school cafeteria lunch, he decided to act. He made a difference after seeing a Facebook post showing how over 400 kids in Jupiter, Florida didn’t have any access to proper lunch due to their families struggling to pay their children’s lunch bills.
It was Angie Vyas-Knight, moderator of the Facebook group Jupiter Mamas who posted alarming statistics about kids from across the country who couldn’t have a decent lunch because of their accumulated lunch debt.
“I was like, ‘that’s not OK.’” These kids are starting off the school year with a negative balance, won’t even have a shot at starting with a clean slate,” Vyas-Knight said in an interview with ABC News.
Angie’s post also contained a clarion call to resolve the outstanding lunch debt preventing kids across nine school districts from getting their healthy lunch. After two weeks, Andrew Levy encountered Vyas-Knight’s post and immediately took action.
“It hit me in the heart,” said Levy, a Jupiter real estate agent of Echo Fine Properties. “I really believe it’s simple acts, simple gestures.” Andrew knew he had to act right away. “These children that were indebted were going to either not eat or would just get cheese sandwiches, and I thought that’s crazy.”
Levy is not affiliated with anyone in all the school districts. He had no connections nor knew any of the 400 children he helped. The mere idea of making a difference is what fueled Andrew to just ‘do it.’
The Echo Fine properties real estate agent thought that it would be challenging to gather all the people needed to pay off debt for school cafeteria lunch. It would take longer if he waited for all the donations, so instead, he paid $944.34 himself.
Levy didn’t stop here.
Before paying the school cafeteria lunch debt, Levy wanted to rally support while setting a good example. He didn’t want just to write a check and be done with it. “I wanted to make sure every dollar I was giving them was going to the Jupiter schools,” said Levy.
A full lunch in Palm Beach County school cafeterias cost $2.05 in elementary schools and $2.30 in middle and high school. Elementary students are not denied food when they have school lunch debt. Instead, their entrée is replaced by turkey and cheese sandwich. The students still get to keep their sides and drinks. On the other hand, high school students will only have a cheese sandwich and their choice of milk or juice.
Levy was concerned about how the differences between the lunch of children would cause self-esteem issues. Despite breakfast being free-of-charge in all Palm Beach County Schools, Levy couldn’t bear the thought of a hungry child during a school day. “Food is something that you shouldn’t have to think about. Children shouldn’t have to learn hungry,” he said.
Levy’s bold step is still miles away from the target. Palm Beach County students still have over $51,000 lunch debts from all the school districts. Levy will start either a GoFundMe or fundraising page that can raise money every quarter. Ever since the public took notice of his heroic deed, over 200 people have already offered to help. Just recently, another donor gave $5,000.
Vyas-Knight was moved after the surge of donations to help the kids of Palm Beach County. Teachers of the school districts felt the impact immediately. One student told a teacher how excited she is that she finally got a hot meal this year.
Watch the video below to witness the impact of Andrew Levy: