School District Says Students Who Owe Lunch Money Get Cold Sandwiches

'One heck of a noble kid': 3rd grader from California uses allowance to pay classmates' school lunch debt

A 9-year-old California boy used money which he had been saving from his allowance since Christmas to pay for his classmates’ school lunch debts for the entire third grade class, sparking widespread praise on social media.       

Ryan Kyote would normally have spent his money on baseball cards or new ballet slippers, his mother Kylie Kirkpatrick told USA TODAY on Thursday.     

Ryan Kyote, 9

» RELATED: Virginia school district buys food truck to serve summer lunches     

But one morning while eating breakfast he heard on the news that a little girl in Indiana was forced to return her hot lunch after learning she didn't have enough money in her student account.           

Kirkpatrick remembers Ryan asking “How can a five-year-old owe a school money?”

She called West Park Elementary School in Napa, California to find out the district’s policies on school lunches. Although the school doesn’t turn away students who can’t pay for school lunches, Kirkpatrick discovered students can accrue debt that is then billed to their parents at the end of the year.          

“As a single parent I’m pretty strict on finances,” she said. “If I was to receive a bill of $100 at the end of the year that would be hard for us.”          

She relayed the information to Ryan after he got home from school, along with the fact that his own classmates in the third grade owed $74.50 in lunch debts. That’s when he decided he wanted to use his allowance to pay for his friends.          

The selfless gesture has received attention from celebrities and politicians alike, including presidential Democratic hopefuls Senator Bernie Sanders and Mayor Bill de Blasio, who used the episode as a chance to discuss issues of poverty in America.          

They also praised Ryan's actions, with de Blasio calling him "One heck of a noble kid."

Napa Valley Unified School District confirmed that West Park Elementary School received Ryan's donation to the third grade class and appreciates his support to the lunch program.           

"The district is grateful for his compassion and he should be proud of his act of kindness," NUVSD spokesperson Stacy Rollo told USA TODAY on Friday. "It shines a light on a broader issue."          

Ryan’s mom says he’s touched by all the attention and looks up to other donors eliminating lunch debt for other schools, such as Chobani’s $85,000 contribution to a school district in Idaho.           

“As a parent I’m impressed of how much something could come from a small gesture and I’m really so proud of him,” Kirkpatrick said.    

» RELATED: 9-year-old uses allowance to pay off lunch bills for classmates

Thank you for reading the Dayton Daily News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.

Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Dayton Daily News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.

X