T.I. steps in to help Florida teen who couldn’t afford to pay for her school lunch

Tip 'T.I.' Harris theegrio.com
Rapper T.I. attends the premiere of Disney And Marvel’s “Ant-Man And The Wasp” on June 25, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images)


Rapper T.I. and a prominent civil rights organization have stepped into the case of a Florida teen whose school lunch was thrown away by a cashier because she was 15 cents short.

The developments that unfolded last week in Orange City, Fla., sent T.I. into a bout of fits, which he expressed on Twitter to the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a non-profit based in Washington, D.C. The rapper is offering to pay for the girl’s lunch for the next school year.

“This sh*t is despicable!!!” T.I. tweeted to the Lawyers’ Committee – an organization headed by civil rights lawyer Kristen Clarke. “This is the kind of sh*t that deters kids from coming to school. I’d like to take care of her school lunch for the year. I hate to hear this type of thing happening to our children. Petty ass, peon ass, poor excuse for a grow person.”

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In addition to T.I. making the offer, the Lawyers’ Committee has set up a GoFundMe crowdfunding account to help the girl.

The situation unfolded on Aug. 14, when the 15-year-old sophomore at University High School attempted to pay for her lunch at the school’s cafeteria, her mother, Kimberly Aiken, told CBS affiliate WKMG-TV. When the cashier rang up the meal, she noted the teen’s account was 15 cents short. The teen had no money and the cashier tossed the uneaten food in the trash. Aiken has declined to name her daughter.

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The daughter is a part of the school’s lunch program, but the program had not yet taken effect, Aiken said. The teen returned to school the next day with a quarter to settle her account but was told her account was already settled.

Volusia County Schools spokesman Roger Edgcomb told WKMG that school officials were seeking to speak to the family and resolve the situation.

Neither Edgcomb nor Volusia County Schools Superintendent James Russell were available for comment Tuesday afternoon.

The Lawyers’ Committee sent a letter to Russell admonishing the district for treating the teen in this way. The letter was provided to theGrio.

“Schools should not shame children who are unable to afford meals,” Lawyers’ Committee president and executive director Kristen Clarke wrote in the two-page letter to the superintendent.

Clarke requested a meeting with district officials to ensure that other students do not experience similar treatment.

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“Denying students meals because of financial need perpetuates food insecurity, increases hunger and negatively impacts their productivity and learning environment,” Clarke wrote. “With over 63,000 students and 85 schools, Volusia County School District has an obligation to ensure that its students, regardless of financial status, have equal access to a sound education, including access to meals during the school day.”