Man pays off overdue lunch fees for 89 elementary school students

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BURLINGTON, IA (AP) — A Burlington man has surprised the elementary school he attended by writing a $700 check to pay for students’ school lunches.

Jerry Fenton said the money will be used to cover overdue lunch bills for children at Grimes Elementary School who haven’t been able to pay for lunch but are fed anyway, according to the Des Moines Register (http://dmreg.co/2ep1MrF ).

Fenton said he read a story online about a boy who brought two lunches to school so he could give one to a friend who wasn’t able to pay his lunch bills, and decided to go a step further.

School district food service director Alan Mehaffy said unpaid lunch bills aren’t a major problem at Burlington schools, but can sometime cause tension between parents and teachers when reminders about the bills are sent home.

Fenton, who owns the Arrowhead Motel in Burlington, received lots of publicity on social media after writing about the donation on his Facebook page.

“I don’t want to tell people what to do … but it’s always nice when people do nice things,” he said, saying he hopes the donation will inspire people to do something generous for others.

READ MORE: Mom reveals the reason she packed two lunches for her son

Mehaffy said gifts like Fenton’s donation are “extremely rare.” He said he could only remember one other similar donation to the school, when a school food service employee had died and asked for memorial donations to be directed to the overdue lunch bills.

“It made a big impact,” Mehaffy said of Fenton’s donation. “It was a very generous offer.”

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