COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho – A little girl in Coeur d’Alene hopes to help end student lunch debt with her lemonade stand.
Second-grader Amiah Van Hill raised almost $400 in the last week to help pay down the approximate $23,000 in student lunch debt in the Coeur d’Alene School District.
She started small, and helped pay off debt at her elementary school, Hayden Meadows, before expanding her fundraising efforts to the entire district.
Her mom, Rachel, said they had such a great response to Amiah's "Lemonade 4 Lunch" stand that they started a GoFundMe account for the cause, with the help of school district officials.
“Even though my daughter doesn’t know what GoFundMe is, we just had overwhelming support for this kind of issue,” Rachel Van Hill said. “Other people from different parts of the country asked how they could help.”
Van Hill said they planned to go out to sporadically to keep running their physical lemonade stand as well.
“I think we’re going to do it spur of the moment, probably tomorrow,” she said on Tuesday. “Maybe like 11 to 1?”
Coeur d’Alene School District officials said they do not do an “alternative lunch” if students reach the end of the line and don’t have enough to pay for their meal. They are allowed to essentially overdraft, and their parents are notified.
“During summertime, we’re contacting parents and they’re paying off some of the debt,” Ed Ducar, the nutrition services manager for the district said. “We’re trying to work with families to contact them and see how we can assist them, and if they’re struggling they can fill out a free and reduced [lunch] application. And it’s all confidential.”
Amiah and her mom said they were inspired to help end student lunch debt after seeing what Jeff Lew, a Seattle-based dad, had done in Washington.
“I was very touched, it made my night, actually it made my whole weekend just to know that my campaign and efforts have inspired a six year old to do the same thing,” Lew said. “I’m blown away.”
“It takes a village to accomplish paying off these lunch debts,” he said on Tuesday. “Even if it’s only like $20, it’s paying off someone’s lunch debt who needs it.”
Amiah’s lemonade stand is near Honeysuckle Beach on Honeysuckle Avenue at Forest Hills, if you see her out there. You can also donate to the GoFundMe account here.