School meal petition gets more than 47,000 signatures - KXXV Central Texas News Now

School meal petition gets more than 47,000 signatures

Source: KXXV Source: KXXV
Source: KXXV Source: KXXV
BELL COUNTY, TX (KXXV) -

A Killeen school teacher's petition to ensure Texas students are given a meal whether or not they have enough money to pay for it has over 47,000 signatures.

When News Channel 25 first reported on the petition on Feb. 22, it had a little over 100 signatures.

School teacher Kelvin L. Holt thought he had a decent number of signatures when he finally reached 1,500 just two weekends ago -- but then the numbers suddenly began increasing.

"I woke up, [and] there were 3,000. As I was going through, liking those comments, I got a message: 5,000, then 6,000, then 10,000, then 11,000," Holt said.

He says it's thanks to an anonymous contributor from New Jersey who boosted his petition on Change.org.

"I don't even know who this person was -- [an] anonymous benefactor, basically, or contributor. They boosted or they promoted the petition, meaning they paid money, they donated money to have this petition sent to people who Change.org felt would support it," he said.

He started the petition on Change.org, asking Rep. Senfronia Thompson to amend H.B. 3562, which she wrote, so that Texas students won't go hungry if their parents neglect their meal cards. 

Holt says he witnessed his four-year-old student cry because a cafeteria worker wouldn't give her a free breakfast meal.

"My jaw dropped. It blew me away. It kicked me in the gut. It ate at me all day," Holt said.

Some districts already have a policy in place to give students smaller, alternative meals if they don't have the money, but some say those alternative meals are still not enough.

"The schools have the meals, but when your tray is taken away and you're given a peanut butter or cheese sandwich, as a punishment, punishing a parent through a child, I just don't think that's right. Feed the child. Deal with the adult issues adult to adult," he said.

He's also done some campaigning on his own. This weekend, while attending a fundraiser for Bikers Against Child Abuse at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, he passed around tiny cards with a QR code on them and the different ways people can find and sign his petition online.

"My intent is, regardless of the outcome of the petition in Texas, I want to transition this petition into a national effort," Holt said. "I just want some resolution. I don't want four-year-olds crying before breakfast. And it's not just Texas. It's a nationwide thing."

Holt says all of this attention wouldn't be possible if it weren't for the petition's supporters.

"I appreciate their signatures. I appreciate their support. I appreciate their comments. Their comments show the depth and breadth of this program," he said.

In the petition, along with Thompson, Holt names Rep. J.D. Sheffield and Sen. Troy Fraser. He says he still hasn't gotten a response from them, but he's expecting one soon.

"I would like to have some commitment from a legislator or a senator, someone saying, 'Yes, I will initiate the amendment, and it will be amendment XYZ.' I just want someone to go public and say, 'Yes, I'm the person that's going to initiate that amendment,'" Holt said.

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