NJ teen raising money so no child forced to skip school lunch

SUMMIT, New Jersey (WABC) -- A teenager from New Jersey is showing compassion for her classmates after experiencing something no child should have to endure at school.

She was forced to skip lunch, but then learned that school hunger is an even bigger problem than she knew.

Keertana Talla was just 6 years old when something happened to her that's put her on a mission today.

"I had forgotten to take a lunch to school one day and I was not given a lunch so I was forced to be hungry," Keertana said. "I was upset and confused about why I couldn't get a free lunch."

The 15-year-old remembered that experience when she began to see in the media, other stories of kids being denied lunch at school because they racked up a debt or were called out, even tagged as owing money to the cafeteria.

"In this day and age, kids should have access to nutritious lunches and not be put in the spotlight when they can't pay, especially when it's not their fault," Keertana said.

What's mind boggling to many parents, quite frankly, is how adults make these decisions that can only be embarrassing to children and in front of their peers, but this is not the first time we've seen this.

Back in May, seniors in Fair Lawn who owed money for lunch, books, or other activities had their names announced during an assembly, and were told right there, that they wouldn't get diplomas unless their debts were satisfied.

As of Tuesday morning, Keertana had raised more than $4,000, she wants to raise 10,000.

She's already identified at least two school systems that need the help.

This is not a unique crisis, Eyewitness News found several similar campaigns on GoFundMe across the U.S.

Keertana, now a sophomore at the Kent Place School, stepped up to fight hunger and shame all because she was forced to feel it one day as a little kid.

"It was an eye opening experience. I feel like I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing now because of it," Keertana said.
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