5-Year-Old Raises Money to Pay Off School Lunch Debt - Paper Pinecone Blog

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5-Year-Old Raises Money to Pay Off School Lunch Debt

Published Date: 12/17/19

School lunch debt has made the news many times over the last few years. From a man in Pennsylvania whose offer to pay over $22,000 in lunch debt was refused, to a Florida man who successfully paid off his town’s lunch debt. Children are continuously shamed over lunch debt that California has actually passed a law banning it.


One kindergartener in Vista, California decided to take school lunch debt into her own hands, CNN reported.

Katelynn Hardee is a 5-year-old attending Breeze Hill Elementary School. After overhearing a parent say she was having trouble paying for the after school program, Hardee decided to take action.

Katelynn’s mom, Karina Hardee, told CNN, "She started asking me a lot of questions and I just tried to explain to her that sometimes people aren't as fortunate and that we need to try to be kind and give when we can."

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On December 8th Katelynn set up a stand selling hot chocolate, cookies, and cider, raising $80 and paying off the negative lunch balances of 123 children at her elementary school.

Lori Higley, principal of Breeze Hill Elementary, told CNN, "Everybody is just so proud and happy and other students are already talking about ways they can also make a difference. It goes to show that even one small, kind act from a 5-year-old can mean the difference for someone in their life."

Katelynn isn’t stopping now. Her mom said that her new goal is to pay off the thousands of negative accounts in the Vista Unified School District.
"It's all about kindness. Especially this holiday season, and with everything that's going on in the world, we just need a little bit more kindness out there," Hardee told CNN.

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Katelynn has launched #kikiskindnessproject to involve other students. On Saturday, Breeze Hill students and staff will host a bake sale complete with hot chocolate this Saturday and donate the proceeds to pay off additional lunch balances.

Congrats, Katelynn. You’ve showed others that children can make a huge impact.

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Photo from CNN.com