SLC law firm pays Eisenhower Junior High’s entire school lunch balance

Dec 21, 2022, 6:10 PM | Updated: 8:31 pm

TAYLORSVILLE, Utah — It was a Christmas miracle on Wednesday at Eisenhower Junior High School, one that brought holiday cheer to administrators and teachers.

The owners of Siegfried and Jensen, a Salt Lake City law firm, showed up and paid the entire school lunch balance since the beginning of the school year, which turned out to be $8,828.34. That means 214 families’ lunch balances just went to zero.

“It’s an honor to be witness to this miracle because it absolutely is a Christmas miracle,” said an emotional Amy Burgon-Hill, a sixth grade teacher at the school. “There are no words to say what a difference this will make to our students and their families.”

Luke Peterson and Todd Bradford, owners of the law firm, said they got to know Burgon-Hill from a free Thanksgiving dinner event they gave teachers and were touched by the needs of the school. They also saw a story on KSL TV last month about a businessman who paid off the school lunch balance and thought that would be a great way to help out this Christmas.

“That resonated with us,” Bradford said. “Just felt like that’s the right thing to do.”

“Just want them to have a Merry Christmas, and now, [those families] are less stressed about paying school lunch bills,” Peterson said.

It also means this balance will not follow the student for years to come.

“It just keeps going year to year until the balance is paid off,” principal Westly Cutler said to KSL TV. “You eventually start sending letters to ask for compensation, and it follows them all the way through high school to graduation.”

The more than $8,600 is not for those who already qualify for free or reduced lunches, but for those families who either haven’t signed up or make too much to qualify. A clear reflection of the tough financial situation many families are in right now.

“The children are the ones that make the decision — do I get lunch today and add to this debt or do I go to class hungry? Nobody should have to make that choice, especially a kid,” Burgon-Hill said.

Cutler said this is another good reminder for anyone who feels they may qualify for free or reduced lunch to make sure they are signing up.

Peterson and Bradford said they hope to join other businesses and do more of these in the future.

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SLC law firm pays Eisenhower Junior High’s entire school lunch balance