PROVIDENCE, R.I.(WPRI) — Ryan Kyote, a 10-year-old from Napa, California, who became the public face of the movement to end “lunch-shaming” – is bringing his mission to Rhode Island.
Kyote donated six months of his allowance, to pay off the lunch debt of his third-grade schoolmates. The story went viral and California Gov. Gavin Newsom ended up signing a bill guaranteeing all students in the state receive a regular school lunch, even if they owe money.
Kyote was in Rhode Island Friday to support state Representative Marcia Ranglin-Vassell’s bill to require free lunch for all public elementary and secondary school students in the state.
He will meet with her to tour the State House, and meet with Mayor Jorge Elorza.
“I hope his visit will call attention to the problem of lunch debt and lunch shaming in Rhode Island. No child should be shamed or denied food at school because they don’t have the money to pay for it – for any reason. Kids can’t concentrate on learning when they are hungry,” said Rep. Ranglin-Vassell. “In a country where there is such wealth, it is outrageous that lunch debt is even a concept. At 9, Ryan Kyote can understand the importance of lifting this burden from kids, and he made it happen himself for his class.”
As of October, Providence schools offer free lunch for all students.
Warwick schools made national headlines last spring when a plan to deny hot lunches to children whose families owed money, went viral. Chobani yogurt company even got involved, donating almost $50,000 to pay off Warwick students’ lunch bills.
Representative Ranglin-Vassell says in the upcoming 2020 legislative session, she intends to re-submit legislation to require universal free lunch at all public elementary and secondary schools statewide, something she says she has been trying to do since 2017.