Middle School Teacher’s Viral TikTok Video Raises $30K To Pay Off All Students’ Lunch Debt

Teacher Raises Enough Money to Cancel Student Lunch Debt

Being an educator is a demanding job, but some teachers still go above and beyond for their students. Garrett Jones, a middle school teacher in Utah, was inspired to help some of his students with outstanding lunch fees and went to TikTok to see if he could encourage people to donate. The initial goal was $8,000, but in just a couple of days, he received enough contributions to reach over $30,000.

The viral video is only six seconds long, and features a text caption: “If 2,673 Venmo'd me $1, I could pay the outstanding lunch fees of every student in my school because the last thing a kid should be worrying about is how much they owe for meals at a place they're legally obligated to be.” Within 24 hours, Jones posted an update video, letting people know he was surprised and pleased that he already received $2,000 through Venmo and CashApp donations. This marker was quickly surpassed the next day when the number increased to $8,000, and the day after when he reached the $20,000 milestone.

“I think for middle schoolers, probably the only thing worse than being hungry is being embarrassed,” Jones says. “Being at the front of the line and hearing they have a balance is likely enough to dissuade some of them from even eating at all.” The seventh-and-eighth-grade teacher found out through his school's lunch ladies that the total debt was about $8,000, and even Jones expected to receive a couple of hundred dollars at the most. Now that he has accumulated $30,000 from small charitable donations, he can distribute some of the extra money throughout the Wasatch County school district to cancel more student lunch fees.

Garret Jones, a Utah middle school teacher, created a TikTok video to help raise money to pay off student lunch debt.

@cgj205 Kids can’t learn if they’re hungry and don’t deserve to be handed a bill for lunch at a place they have to be. School lunch should be free. #teachersoftiktok #teacher #schoollunch #middleschool #elementaryschool #highschool ♬ I hope yall are making some money – cash.bets

The video went viral, and after 24 hours, he already raised $2,000 in donations.

@cgj205 Replying to @user4025757790510 little update! THANK YOU ALL. 🥹 My venmo is in bio and my cash app is $cgj9. I would’ve included it if I thought it was actually going to do numbers. Will keep updating! #teachersoftiktok #schoollunch #QuakerPregrain #schoollunchdebt ♬ Chill Vibes – Tollan Kim

After 36 hours, Jones collected over $10,000 in donations—$2,000 over the goal of $8,000.

@cgj205 Replying to @erikalove4 3rd update in 36 hours. You guys are insane!!! #teachersoftiktok #schoollunch #schoollunchdebt #QuakerPregrain #teacher #giving #mrbeast ♬ Good impression VP company introduction (3 minutes)(983023) – RYOpianoforte

In 48 hours, Jones received over $20,000 through Venmo and CashApp donations.

@cgj205 Replying to @wtfitsnolen update 4. You guys are insane. I’m sorry I can’t make things happen faster. #teachersoftiktok #schoollunch #giving ♬ Happy and fun corporate music for advertising. – TimTaj

So far, Jones has raised $30,000 in donations. He will oversee how the extra funds will be distributed through the Wasatch County school district.

@cgj205 Update Number 5! 99% of what I said didn’t make the story and I’m bummed because you guys deserve all the credit. I’m so glad my district is stepping up with a legitimate accounting of the money so that I can be transparent with you all. This week was amazing. People are so good. ❤️ #UnlimitedHPInk #teachersoftiktok #teacher #giving #schoollunch #middleschool #highschool ♬ dance(256762) – TimTaj

Garrett Jones: TikTok
h/t: [Upworthy]

All images via Garrett Jones.

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Margherita Cole

Margherita Cole is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and illustrator based in Southern California. She holds a BA in Art History with a minor in Studio Art from Wofford College, and an MA in Illustration: Authorial Practice from Falmouth University in the UK. She wrote and illustrated an instructional art book about how to draw cartoons titled 'Cartooning Made Easy: Circle, Triangle, Square' that was published by Walter Foster in 2022.
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