Who Is Ryan Kirkpatrick? New Details On 9-Year-Old California Boy Who Used Allowance To Pay Off Class' Cafeteria Debt

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Who Is Ryan Kirkpatrick? New Details On 9-Year-Old California Boy Who Used Allowance To Pay Off Class' Cafeteria Debt

A nine-year-old California boy used his own money to help his fellow students pay for their lunches. Ryan Kirkpatrick of Napa wanted to help his classmates pay off any debt they owed to the school cafeteria so he asked his mom to help him find out how to do that. While kids at his school won’t be denied a hot lunch even if their lunch debit account is in the red, the school does keep track of lunch debt. Ryan used his own saved up allowance money to pay off all the debts owed by fellow third-graders at West Park Elementary School.

Who is Ryan Kirkpatrick? Keep reading to find out all about him.

1. Ryan’s choice

Ryan’s family makes a point of cooking and eating together and that has become an important part of the time they spend together. Ryan's mother mentioned to him that not all families have that chance and he wanted to try and help kids who might not have the same access to food that he has. He asked his mother to find out if any of his fellow third-grade students had balances owed to the cafeteria at their school. His mother says the school responded to her query quickly and she recalls to the local ABC affiliate, ”It was I think $74.50. 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.'" Ryan used his allowance money, which normally he would spend on sporting goods, and paid off the balance anonymously.

Later, he explained that he did it because "I want them to realize people actually think about them because you're not just bragging about stuff. I want them to feel happy someone cares about them."

He chose to pay with his allowance.

2. Ryan’s school

The Heavy reports that Ryan attends West Park Elementary School in Napa, California where school lunch prices range from 30 cents to $3.25, depending on a family’s income level. Parents can put money into a debit account to pay for lunches but no student will be denied a hot lunch due to a negative balance. Ryan’s donation covered any shortfalls in the debit accounts of his classmates.

Students can get lunch no matter what.

RELATED: Who Is Bonnie Kimball? New Details On The Lunchroom Worker Fired For Giving Free Lunch To Hungry Student

3. Free lunch program

According to the National School Lunch Program website, “The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is a federally assisted meal program operating in public and nonprofit private schools and residential child care institutions. It provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children each school day. The program was established under the National School Lunch Act, signed by President Harry Truman in 1946.” The website goes on to say that in its first year, about 7.1 students participated in the program. In 2016, the last year for which data are reported, there were 30.4 million students participating. Eligibility for the program is based on various factors. Some students are considered “categorically eligible” by virtue of being a homeless, migrant, runaway, or foster child. Family income is another measure of eligibility: children from families with incomes at or below 130 percent of the Federal poverty level are eligible for free meals. Those with incomes between 130 and 185 percent of the Federal poverty level are eligible for reduced price meals. Reduced cost meals cannot be more than 40 cents. Reduced priced meals at Ryan’s school are 30 cents.

Ryan erased the cafeteria debt.

4. Food insecurity

Hunger due to lack of access to food is a problem facing many millions of Americans. According to Feeding America, 40 million people struggle with hunger in the United States, including more than 12 million children. Children are more vulnerable to food insecurity than any other group in America. The school nutrition program aims to mitigate the effects of food insecurity by providing lunch, and in some areas breakfast, to children in need.

Children face hunger disproportionately in America.

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RELATED: New Details On The Lunch Ladies Who Stole Nearly $500,000 Of Kids' Lunch Money

5. Social media praise

Once word of Ryan’s generous act got around, social media users were quick to praise him, using words like “amazing,” “wonderful,” and “selfless”. Some heavy hitters in the world of public policy took notice of his gesture as well. New York City Mayor and long shot presidential candidate Bill De Blasio tweeted: “Ryan Kirkpatrick is one heck of a noble kid — but he shouldn’t have to be. We made lunch free for every @NYCSchools student because it was the right thing to do. West Park Elementary, give him back his money and quit holding debt over kids’ heads for daring to want to eat lunch.” Another presidential hopeful, Senator Bernie Sanders share the Twitter story about Ryan as well. In addition to online accolades, Ryan got a very special reward for his actions: tickets to see his favorite basketball team, Golden State Warriors defeat the Toronto Raptors by one point at Oracle Arena.

 

Mayor De Blasio has a record of tackling hunger in New York City.

Ryan’s mom says she hopes others will take inspiration from Ryan and help pay off lunch debt for students in the future.

Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. Her work has been seen at Ravishly, Babble, Scary Mommy, The Mid, Redbook online, and The Broad Side. She is the creator of the blog Stay at Home Pundit and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.