A 2019 School Nutrition Association survey shows more than 75% of school districts in the U.S. had school meal debt.
Everyone has independent agency in their choices regarding their money. While some save it and use it to splurge on themselves, some go the extra mile to help the people who don't have access to equal resources. Sarah Shoots falls in the latter category as she is going to schools to pay off kids' lunches. The TikTok user posted a video of herself conducting the selfless act, calling a school and asking if she can write a check to pay off any lunch obligations. The school verifies that its outstanding lunch bill exceeds $1,000. In a subsequent video, Sarah visits the school to hand over the check and says, "We did it. Who's next? Let's go."
According to WXYZ Detroit, many students in the country are facing lunch debt. School meals had been free for everyone since the pandemic, however, this year that law was withdrawn, leaving many families in jeopardy. Moreover, the kids who have lunch debt face "lunch shaming" which ranges from having meals thrown in front of their faces, and being publicly shamed by a message taped to their clothes. A 2019 School Nutrition Association survey shows more than 75% of school districts in the U.S. had school meal debt. That came out to about $262 million in outstanding meal balances every year.
If students at a North Carolina district don’t have money to pay for lunch, “the cashier will take their plate away and they will not be served a meal”— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) October 29, 2022
“If the student cant return to the cash register with money, their meal will be thrown away and wasted”https://t.co/uHi2P5kkAT
People like Shoots are doing their part in allowing these kids to have proper meals in school and escape the bullying and shame that is attached to lunch debt. Several people came in support of her charitable work with one person commenting, "$1,000 is overdue lunches means god knows how many kiddos aren’t permitted to eat a lunch daily." Another said, "As someone who sat in the bathroom during lunch for like 9 years bc I didn’t have food or $, I’m sobbing. Thank you." A third user commented, "Oh man I would love for this to happen for my school. We have over $3000 in school charges." However, some people questioned her why is she doing this work and recording it on video. She replied to all the criticism in a follow-up video explaining that social media is a powerful tool to spread awareness. She "would have never known" that she can donate to school lunch accounts if nobody posted it on social media. She added that she decided to film it so that other people can learn about it and do it too.
Moreover, in the follow-up video where she visits a school to hand in the check, she wrote in the caption, "I never want to stop doing this. If u can afford to send a few dollars to my Venmo @sarahshooots we can keep paying it forward!!!" Several people came up to support her with encouraging words and donations with one person writing in comments, "You are a rockstar. From a kid that always had a balance due — thank you."
Another added, "Amazing. Wonder how many ppl who view this could do this. No kids and I would if I could afford to. Hope this goes viral." She also made another video thanking everyone who donated to her cause. In the video, she is recording a normal TikTok video on Taylor Swift's "Getaway Car" when she receives a huge Venmo donation in between. She shows a screenshot of the donation where the donor has donated $1700 dollars and wrote, "Next time, it's on me."
Shoots wrote in the caption, "A huge thank you to everyone who has contributed whether it $1 or $1700 we are going to do big things for these kiddos." Her first video has gathered almost 2 million views and counting with people applauding her generosity and humble behavior for using her privileges to help those who are devoid of them.