Ryan Kirkpatrick paid off the school lunch debt of his fellow third-graders at West Park Elementary School using his allowance money, according to ABC 7 News.
The 9-year-old reportedly asked his mother, Kylie Kirkpatrick, to find the balance owed by his classmates. The total was around $75 and Ryan offered up his allowance money, which was usually put toward new sports gear.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Ryan Wants His Friends to Feel Happy That Someone Cares About Them
One Twitter user called Ryan “a lunch SUPER hero.” Many others are commending him for his “amazing,” “wonderful,” and “selfless” act of kindness.
“I want them to realize people actually think about them because you’re not just bragging about stuff,” Ryan told ABC 7 News. “I want them to feel happy someone cares about them.”
According to the outlet, the Kirkpatrick’s cherish cooking and mealtime each day, which is something not all children are so lucky to have. When Ryan had a conversation with his mother about kids whose families have trouble affording school lunches, he wanted to make a change in whatever way he could.
2. Meal Prices at West Park Elementary Range From $.30 to $3.25
In a video posted to Facebook in March, Ryan’s third grade class sang a tribute to Dr. Seuss. He helped some of his classmates when they needed it.
According to the school website, meal prices at West Park Elementary School in Napa, California range from $.30 to $3.25. Each student has an online account where his or her parent can make credit card or debit card payments to their child’s account, monitor the balance and set up alerts for when the account balance is getting low.
However, school policy states that students with a negative lunch account will still receive a hot meal. Additionally, parents can fill out a free or reduced meal application, although, a new meal application must be completed every school year.
“The National School Lunch Program is a federally funded program that assists schools and other agencies in providing nutritious lunches to children at reasonable prices,” the website says. “Any child at an NVUSD school may purchase a meal. Children from families with lower income may qualify for free or reduced-price meals.”
3. Kylie Kirkpatrick is Very Proud of Her Son
Kylie Kirkpatrick wrote on Twitter that she believes her son is changing the world. It is reported that Ryan paid off the outstanding balance anonymously.
“It was I think $74.50,” Kylie told ABC 7 News. “So I took that email and came to Ryan and said, ‘What do you want to do,’ and he said, ‘I guess I can pay for it.’ I said, ‘are you sure?’ And he said, ‘yes.'”
The young man has been rewarded for his act of generosity with overwhelming media attention. Ryan and Kylie got tickets to watch the Golden State Warriors defeat the Toronto Raptors by one point at Oracle Arena last night.
4. People Are Reacting to Ryan’s Act of Kindness on Twitter
Senator and 2020 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders retweeted Ryan’s story, which Kylie was ecstatic about.
New York City Mayor Kill de Blasio called Ryan “one heck of a noble kid.” He added that New York City schools made lunch free for every student because it was the right thing to do. The Mayor demanded that West Park Elementary give Ryan back his money and quit holding debt over kids’ heads for wanting to eat lunch.
Alyssa Milano says we should all be ashamed that this is our reality. She demands, “we must do better for our young people.”
Another user commented on her post, saying that Ryan’s sentiment was amazing and that kindness like that needs to become part of our culture.
Another user said nothing infuriates him more than the idea of school lunch debt. Kylie responds by saying that everyone should keep the movement going, to pay it forward in her son’s name.
5. Napa Valley Unified School District is Facing Budget Challenges
According to a West Park Elementary School news update, NVUSD Superintendent Dr. Rosanna Mucetti adressed the community, “As you may know, California public school systems across the state are facing declining enrollment mainly due to low birth rates statewide. In addition, high housing costs have made our community increasingly unaffordable. Our school district’s enrollment numbers have been steadily declining over the last decade, and are anticipated to continue dropping. Why does this matter? California public school systems like ours are dependent on California’s Local Control Funding Formula which provides revenue based on the number of students enrolled in the district. To put it simply, enrollment equals revenue. When enrollment declines, revenue declines.”
The district is reaching a problematic reserve level. NVUSD currently sits at 3.6 percent reserves, only slightly above to the state mandated minimum of 3 percent, which could lead to trouble for its schools in the future. Mucetti strives to get the reserve level back to the board policy level of 7.5 percent.