Houston man makes national news with simple good deed for other people’s kids

Chron – by Craig Hlavaty

It’s been a heck of a week for Houston’s Kenny Thompson, who’s been fielding calls from everyone from CNN and the Today show to the Ellen Degeneres Show and local news.

It’s all because he paid off nearly $465 in delinquent meal accounts at an elementary school so that students with negative balances would be able to eat lunch.

The 52-year-old’s big-hearted gesture has gone viral and is inspiring people all over the country to pitch in and help kids in their own communities.  

“I’m not a social media guy at all, I don’t even have a Facebook page,” says Thompson. “But now everybody’s catching on and trying to do the same thing in their community.”

Thompson said he has heard from people from Minnesota, Texas, California, and New York who are applauding him and wanting to do the same for their local schools.

A guy from Pittsburgh called Thompson wanting to buy him a new pair of work boots.

It all started when Thompson heard about a group of students in Salt Lake City who last week had their lunches thrown away because they owed the school money.

Thompson, who volunteers at Valley Oaks Elementary in Spring Branch ISD, reached out to school Principal Gary Henry and cafeteria staff to see how much was owed to their kitchen. On Feb. 3, Thompson settled some accounts.

“I was willing to pay up to $1,000 to help out those kids,” says Thompson. “If I had to dig into my savings I wanted to make good on covering those negatives.”

As a mentor to six boys in the school district and the father of a 14-year-old himself, Thompson had heard stories of kids not eating because of delinquent lunch accounts or not getting proper meals at lunch time. His son shares his same giving spirit and offered up some of his own birthday money for the cause. The teen even bought lunches for his less-fortunate friends himself.

“We are so appreciative that kids in Spring Branch ISD benefit from 10,000-plus volunteers who step forward every day to address student needs,” Spring Branch ISD said in a statement on Friday. “The fact that this story has become public has encouraged others to step forward and ask how they, too, can help.”

For Thompson, the gesture was a way for him to give back so that kids in his area wouldn’t have to go without. He said he remembers what that was like while he was growing up in the San Antonio area.

“We moved around a lot and we didn’t have a lot of money ourselves,” says Thompson. “But somehow my parents made it work for us.”

His favorite school lunch growing up in San Antonio was on Wednesdays.

“It was always Mexican food day,” he laughs. “The cheese enchiladas were great.”

Thompson’s wife is a special education teacher at Valley Oaks and he has volunteered there for the last decade, when he is not helping illuminate the stage at Theatre Under The Stars as a lighting technician. Even his friends in the theater community are asking how they can help.

A few kids have told Thompson’s wife how thankful they are for her husband’s good deed.

“Even parents of kids who aren’t in reduced lunch programs are thanking me,” says Thompson.

So far, he hasn’t heard directly from the parents of children who were helped by his tiny crusade.

Thompson reminds that his donation is just a drop in the bucket. That $465 can only go so far, he says. His hope is that this is just the beginning of a movement in the community that will get adults helping pay for kids’ school lunches.

“It’s an ongoing issue because starting next week the need will still be there,” he says. “If it’s bringing the school lunch programs into the conversation, I’m happy.”

The one meal that schools can control is lunch, says Thompson. For some underprivileged kids, that lunch at school could be the biggest meal of their day. In some school districts, he says, schools aren’t obligated to feed kids with zero balances.

If you want to help out, Thompson says, you should approach a your local school and see where the need is.

“It costs about $8.50 to pay for one week of full-priced lunches at a school, and just two bucks for a whole week of reduced-price lunches,” says Thompson. “That’s someone’s lunch, or just a cup of a coffee per day.”


3 thoughts on “Houston man makes national news with simple good deed for other people’s kids

  1. If this happened in half the east-coast communist states it would be illegal, just like feeding other peoples’ parking meters.

    1. They’ve already made it illegal to feed the homeless. Isn’t it illegal in Las Vegas, California or even NYC?

      Anyways, they can easily do the same with what you are saying and I wouldn’t be surprised. That’s Communism for ya.

  2. Nice to hear, usually the ones that rack up the negative balances come from homes that have mortgages, a few credit card bills, car payment, and maybe a small balance at the doctor or dentist office, and why, because they make to much money and don’t qualify for free handouts, they are the ones keeping America going. Kids are federally mandate to go to school and the ones that get the free food are the ones that their households mooch off of society so we force the others to buy their kids food in a place where they are forced to spend six to seven hours a day then take that away when they don’t pay on time. My kids are one of the few in this area that have to pay full price, nice that I make decent money, but these people have easier lives, hard to say why I even do it sometimes. Poor families get next to nothing for a cell phone, subsidized housing, free meal for kids, free food for households, subsidized health care, free day care in some areas, subsidized or free internet, and free dental.

Join the Conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *