Six-year-old Amiah Van Hill first learned about lunch debt when her mom read her a news story about a Seattle man who paid overdue bills accrued by the city’s kids with an online GoFundMe campaign.
“And I wanted to do the same thing, except do a lemonade stand because I didn’t know what GoFundMe was,” says Van Hill.
So along with her little sister, she sold lemonade in her hometown of Hayden in North Idaho to raise money. They made $40 the first day, enough to wipe out the lunch debt at her school. But that wasn’t good enough for Van Hill.
“Other kids know that their parents can’t pay the lunch debt off," says Van Hill. "But it’s not the kids' fault – it’s not the kids or the parents’ fault that the kid can’t get lunch.”
Her mom, Rachel, started a GoFundMe campaign online to raise more money, which helped Van Hill raise $23,000 to pay off all the Coeur d’Alene School District’s lunch debt.
“She’s probably providing a bandaid to be honest with you," says Rachel Van Hill, "but at the same time I think she’s shedding light on a topic we probably should be discussing and probably changing a lot of the policies around it.”
Now, Van Hill is looking to raise $100,000 to pay off the lunch debt for the whole state. So far the Lemonade4Lunch campaigns has only raised a few hundred dollars. But she’s got a message for those who are skeptical:
“No matter how old you are, you can make a difference in this world.”
Find reporter Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill
Copyright 2017 Boise State Public Radio