Boy, 9, pays off lunch debt for entire third grade at Calif. school

NAPA, Calif. (KGO/CNN) - In order to show his classmates someone cares, a 9-year-old boy in California used his allowance money to pay off the nearly $75 lunch debt the third-graders owed.

When 9-year-old Ryan Kyote had a conversation with his mother about kids who couldn’t afford school lunches, he decided to do something about it. He asked his mom, Kylie Kirkpatrick, to find out how much his fellow third-graders at West Park Elementary School owed.

Ryan Kyote, 9, used the allowance money he would normally spend on sports gear to pay the nearly $75 debt.
Ryan Kyote, 9, used the allowance money he would normally spend on sports gear to pay the nearly $75 debt. (Source: Kylie Kirkpatrick/KGO/CNN)

The amount was $74.50.

"So, I took that email and came to Ryan and said, ‘What do you want to do?’ He said, ‘I guess I can pay for it.’ I said, ‘Are you sure?’ He said, 'Yes,’” Kylie Kirkpatrick said.

Ryan gave all his allowance money, which he would normally use to buy sports gear, to the school.

"I want them to realize people actually think about them, instead of just telling them what they did because you’re just bragging about stuff. So, I want them to feel happy someone cares about them,” Ryan said.

Kirkpatrick says she’s proud of her son. The two hope their idea to pay off the outstanding balance might inspire other classes or schools to do the same, according to the Napa Valley Register.

West Park Principal Amye Scott recognized Ryan’s kind gesture.

“It’s a wonderful way of thinking about other people. I’m proud to have him as a student,” she told the Register.

Depending on income level, elementary school meals in the district range from 30 cents to $3.25 each. District policy states students with negative lunch accounts will still receive a hot meal.

The Register reports parents have until June 30 to pay off their children’s food service balance. After that time, the district absorbs the remainder, currently estimated to be between $20,000 and $25,000.

Copyright 2019 KGO, Kylie Kirkpatrick via CNN. All rights reserved. Gray News contributed to this report.