School hot lunch is one of the most important parts of the day

An integral part of the ability  for school children to learn, regardless of their given aptitude, is that they be performing those learning tasks while on a full stomach. Nationwide, all k-12 schools serve at least one hot meal a day and offer some kind of reduced price to children who can’t afford the normal daily lunch. This cheaper or free meal is through the National School Lunch Program, which has been serving up low cost or free meals since President Truman put forth the National School Lunch Act in 1946.

There are a few  problems with NSLP however: There is a stigma behind it for the children, as they are all too aware of the reduced priced meals relationship with poverty. And two, these federally reduced price or free meals might easily be less nutritious than a la carte items like say salads and other items that might not be covered under a school’s plan. So as well with even a reasonably healthy reduced priced meal, students might even avoid it in general when they can’t really afford to, out of fear of embarrassment.

Cayden Taipalus hot lunch

Cayden Taipalus Raises $25,000+ for hot lunches

One boy recently, 8 year old Cayden Taipalus from Howell Michigan,  was disturbed when he saw a peer forced to eat a cold cheese sandwich– a pretty weak meal alternative in 2014. Cayden’s peer had discovered that his meal account was out of funds, and he therefore couldn’t buy the school’s hot lunch. Through the said Federal program, he was given a cheese sandwich. Not even friends with the boy, Cayden was upset along with him, and decided to do something about it.

Cayden has had whirlwind press in the last week, appearing in the news all over the world.

We spoke with Cayden:

How old are you and what grade are you at in school?
I am 8 years old and in 3rd grade.
Tell me about what gave you the idea to help out your peers who couldn’t afford a hot lunch. 
 I started this project because I saw a kid in line have to put down his hot lunch due to lack of funds and get a cheese sandwich. This upset me and the boy.
How did you go about doing it?
I started collecting bottles and cans to return, called family, and went to my neighbors. I collected $64 to start.

Why did you feel it was important?

I think everyone should be able to eat hot lunch if they want.

What is your favorite part of school?
My favorite time at school is gym class cause I love to exercise and play sports.
What would you like to be when you grow up?
I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.
We hear you have been continuing your efforts to help other students as well. Tell me about that.
 Im continuing to raise money so I can pay off as many delinquent lunch accounts all over the place and put money on their accounts so they can eat and not worry about it.
(Editor’s Note: The modest-for-an-8-year-old Cayden neglected to mention his current Fundrazr campaign.)
What is the most interesting thing that you have learned this year?
I have learned a small thing can go a long ways.
What do you do for fun?
For fun I like to play outside with friends.

6 Responses so far.

  1. I never EVER want to hear that all is lost! There’s more of this than meets the eye. Thank you for promoting it, Brad.

  2. Holly says:

    This is beautiful. Don’t ever underestimate the power of one person (child or adult) to make things better!

  3. A cheese sandwich? Bravo Cayden for stepping up! Amazing what anyone can do to help when they simply decide to do so.

  4. Debra Jason says:

    What an awesome child – an inspiration at a young age, he’s bound to continue doing great things.

  5. Jenni Ryan says:

    wow future TED talk speaker??

    amazing child

    Interesting how very different your system is compared to here in Australia. Most of the kids here just take their own lunch to school or buy it from a canteen.

    We all grew up eating sandwiches and fruit etc at lunch and all survived

  6. Liz Delaney says:

    Well done Cayden. You are sure to become a future leader. What inspiration and kind heartedness. Keep up your good work

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