New York

Donors come forward nationwide to erase school lunch debts

  • FILE - In this Jan. 25, 2017, file photo, students fill their lunch trays at J.F.K Elementary School in Kingston, N.Y., where all meals are now free under the federal Community Eligibility Provision. A donor inspired by a tweet raised money to pay off lunch debt in districts around the country, as well as thousands of dollars in overdue lunch fees at other schools in the Kingston district. (AP Photo/Mary Esch, File)

    FILE - In this Jan. 25, 2017, file photo, students fill their lunch trays at J.F.K Elementary School in Kingston, N.Y., where all meals are now free under the federal Community Eligibility Provision. A donor inspired by a tweet raised money to pay off lunch debt in districts around the country, as well as thousands of dollars in overdue lunch fees at other schools in the Kingston district. (AP Photo/Mary Esch, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Jan. 25, 2017 file photo, Jill Draper is shown in her Kingston, N.Y., yarn studio. Draper raised money to pay off school lunch debts in her local district after seeing a tweet suggesting it would be a nice thing to do. Similar donation efforts around the country, inspired by the same tweet, have cleared thousands of dollars in overdue lunch fees. (AP Photo/Mary Esch, FIle)

    FILE - In this Jan. 25, 2017 file photo, Jill Draper is shown in her Kingston, N.Y., yarn studio. Draper raised money to pay off school lunch debts in her local district after seeing a tweet suggesting it would be a nice thing to do. Similar donation efforts around the country, inspired by the same tweet, have cleared thousands of dollars in overdue lunch fees. (AP Photo/Mary Esch, FIle)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - This Jan. 25, 2017 file photo shows a lunch served at J.F.K Elementary School in Kingston, N.Y., where all meals are now free under the federal Community Eligibility Provision. A donor inspired by a tweet raised money to pay off lunch debt in districts around the country, as well as thousands of dollars in overdue lunch fees at other schools in the Kingston district. (AP Photo/Mary Esch, FIle)

    FILE - This Jan. 25, 2017 file photo shows a lunch served at J.F.K Elementary School in Kingston, N.Y., where all meals are now free under the federal Community Eligibility Provision. A donor inspired by a tweet raised money to pay off lunch debt in districts around the country, as well as thousands of dollars in overdue lunch fees at other schools in the Kingston district. (AP Photo/Mary Esch, FIle)  (The Associated Press)

Donors motivated by a well-timed tweet have raised thousands of dollars to pay off school lunch debt in districts around the country.

It started when New York City writer Ashley C. Ford read that kids with unpaid lunch accounts are often embarrassed with a substitute meal of a cold cheese sandwich. She appealed to her 66,000 Twitter followers with a solution in early December: Ask if your school has kids with overdue lunch accounts, and pay off the debts.

The tweet resonated. In Minnesota, an online fundraising effort has paid almost $100,000 in lunch debt in Minneapolis schools and $28,000 in St. Paul's. Donors also stepped forward in Kansas, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Indiana and upstate New York.

Ford says she hopes the acts will inspire more community giving.