This past summer, Rachel Van Hill read a news story about Jeffery Lew, the Seattle dad who famously raised over $30,000 to eliminate the lunch debt in his 8-year-old son’s school district. She learned that many U.S. schools that offer reduced or free lunch have lunch debt, and some schools even “lunch shame” students by singling them out with hand stamps or cold cheese sandwiches. Rachel decided to share the article with her 6-year-old, Amiah.
Amiah read the story and was shocked, too. Instead of shaming kids who can’t afford lunch, why not help them? Inspired by Jeffery Lew, Amiah decided to do just that—and started a lemonade stand to eliminate the lunch debt at her elementary school.
That weekend, Amiah decorated her “Lemonade 4 Lunch” stand, mixed up a batch of lemonade, and served cups with the help of her four-year-old sister Aria. The lemonade was free, but Amiah educated every customer about school lunch debt and how she wanted to help the kids at her own school. Then, they could leave an optional donation.
By Sunday evening, Amiah had raised over $40—enough to eliminate all of the lunch debt at her school.
Encouraged by their success, Amiah and Aria set up their stand again the following weekend. That time, they raised $300—enough to absolve the debt of two more local schools.
Amiah decided to set her sights higher. Maybe, like Jeffery Lew, she could erase the entire school lunch debt of her district: $23,000.
Rachel suggested that in addition to her daughters’ lemonade stand, they set up an online fundraiser.
That day, they started a GoFundMe.
Donations began rolling into their campaign—over $2,700 in a few weeks—and then local and national media caught wind of their efforts. Soon, Amiah and Aria’s story of kindness and compassion attracted even more donations from strangers across the country.
In two months, Amiah’s GoFundMe raised over $14,000. Adding in lemonade donations and offline support, she met her fundraising goal and paid off all the school lunch debt in her district.
Now, Amiah has her heart set on a new goal: erasing all of the school lunch debt in her state of Idaho. She believes that every kid deserves a hot lunch.
Amiah’s new GoFundMe has a goal of $100,000. It may sound ambitious, but she thinks that with donors’ support, they can make anything happen.
Despite the increasingly chilly temps, Amiah continues to sell lemonade to supplement her GoFundMe donations. Now, she takes her stand on the road—to local businesses with employees who may want to help her cause.
Amiah continues to teach every customer about school lunch debt and her mission to end it for good. One day, she hopes her dream will be a reality.