Twitter rises up for good: Campaigns spread to pay Twin Cities students' lunch debt

School lunch line
Some generous people are stepping up to cover Minneapolis and St. Paul students' overdue school lunch bills.
Jeffrey Thompson | MPR News file

Two separate campaigns are making their way around social media to help pay the school lunch debt for thousands of students in Minneapolis and St. Paul districts.

About 4,000 students in Minneapolis are behind on payments for lunches. That totals about $160,000 according to HelpMplsKids. In St. Paul schools, 1,793 students have been unable to pay, with a total bill of $27,879 for lunches, the Food for Thought Project reports.

The idea to have strangers pay off overdue school lunch balances has spread to communities across the country, and it appears to have its roots in social media.

The fundraising page for Minneapolis Public Schools cited this tweet as its inspiration:

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As the idea to cover students' lunch debt spreads throughout Facebook and Twitter, Saint Paul Public Schools reports it's been flooded with calls from people wanting to help.

"This was not something the district started on its own accord, but rather because of the calls from people who wanted to help," district spokesperson Toya Stewart Downey said in an email.

So, it set up a donation page on GiveMN.

It's common for families to have difficulties paying for their students' meals at school — just take a look at the replies to Ford's tweet.