Kind Teacher Uses $1 Donations To Cover Students' Lunches So Kids Aren't 'Worrying' About Whether They Can Eat

The Rocky Mountain Middle School teacher urged his followers to donate a single dollar. Now he's changing his students' lives.

A Utah middle school teacher poses with his class. TikTok

After pandemic waivers that made school lunches free expired, the prices have shot up in the past several months. On top of that, the cost of food also being on the rise has brought the average school lunch meal to $5—a whopping $900 total for a school year. This price is double what it was in 2017. 

With families across the United States struggling to pay their children’s school lunch balances, one Utah teacher has stepped up to help.


The teacher used $1 donations to cover students’ lunches, so they are no longer ‘worrying’ about whether they can eat.

According to Good Morning America, the generous teacher, Garrett Jones, teaches digital literacy at Rocky Mountain Middle School in Heber City, Utah. On January 30th, Garrett posted to the video-sharing app TikTok a video of him rubbing his hands together over Lil Wayne’s “Lollipop.” He participated in a trend where people ask viewers to donate a small sum of $1 for usually a humorous reason.



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But Garrett’s intentions were quite the opposite. He wrote atop the video, “If 2,673 Venmo’d me $1 I could pay the outstanding lunch fees of every student in my school because the last thing a kid should be worrying about is how much they owe for meals at a place they’re legally obligated to be.”

He further bolstered his belief that children should not have to worry about their school meals in the 6-second video’s caption.

Garrett wrote, “Kids can’t learn if they’re hungry and don’t deserve to be handed a bill for lunch at a place they have to be. School lunch should be free.”

The video went viral, and the donations started pouring in. He initially didn’t realize how successful his post would be.


“I thought best case scenario, we maybe get a couple of hundred bucks and be able to help a couple of students and even that would have been awesome,” he said.

In just three weeks and 5 million views later, Garrett raised over $30,000. He raised so much money that students of his school won’t be the only ones benefiting from it. He said that the donations will help out other schools in the Wasatch County School District in addition to covering the outstanding lunch balances at his school.

Garrett described his experience of students getting uncomfortable when he handed out notices of their outstanding lunch balance.

“I think the fear of hearing you have a balance and maybe some kids are around...that is just terrifying for a middle schooler,” the 7th and 8th-grade teacher said. “The chance of being embarrassed outweighs the problem of being hungry for a lot of them, I think. And so they just kind of avoid altogether.”


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Student lunch debt is on the rise in the United States.

A survey by the Education Data Initiative in October 2021 found that 43% of surveyed schools reported an increase in students who couldn’t afford meals. That brings the total of U.S. students who can’t afford lunch meals to a staggering 1.54 million. So, fundraisers like Garrett’s are imperative to assuaging the issue until the government provides a more permanent solution.

As of this March, Garrett established a fund with the Wasatch Education Foundation called the Wasatch LOL Fund—Lunch Opens Learning—to continue gathering donations for students. Now people don’t need Venmo to support kids with outstanding lunch balances in Wasatch district schools.

Garrett is optimistic about the greater conversation following his viral fundraiser campaign.


“On a higher level, we can reach out to our representatives and say, ‘Hey, we support this. This is a good use of our tax dollars. We should feed our students and make sure at the very least when they’re going into school…we can guarantee that they had a good meal,” he said.

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Ethan Cotler is a writer living in Boston. He writes on entertainment and news.