Published December 21, 2016
A Utah man who grew up eating free- and reduced-lunch at school has donated enough money to pay for more than 5,000 meals for kids with outstanding lunch balances due at schools in the district where he received his education.
Damon Burton now owns website development and marketing companies and was looking for ways to give back and decided to give $2,000 to the Davis School District, the Standard-Examiner newspaper in Ogden reported Sunday.
"I've experienced the big gap, so I understand the value in helping out because I was a direct recipient of that help in my younger years," he said.
Burton, 35, of Layton, said he thought of the idea and started making calls to schools about two months ago.
"It wasn't a strategic thing, it just evolved," he said.
Burton's donation went to the Davis Education Foundation for distribution. Chris Williams, a spokesman for the district north about 15 miles north of Salt Lake City says it "has definitely lightened someone's load" and is much appreciated.
It's not clear which schools in the district will receive the money, but the decision will be based on need and decided by the district's nutritional service director, Williams said.
The donation is touching for teachers and administrators because they aren't technically supposed to give food to students if they have unpaid balances on their accounts, but it's difficult to withhold hot lunch from kids, said Diane Hammer, principal at Layton Elementary School.
A different Utah district made headlines in 2014 when staffers at a Salt Lake City elementary school took lunches away from kids with past-due lunch balances. The district apologized and faulted breakdowns in communication over a new payment system.
Davis school officials said Burton's donation is worth the equivalent of 5,714 meals.
"That's the nicest thing I've ever heard," Hammer said. "I just want to cry."
Information from: Standard-Examiner, http://www.standard.net