HOUSTON -

In his 10 years as a mentor and tutor, a local man has always done his best to meet the needs of the students in his life.

That's exactly what Kenny Thompson did Monday when he learned that some children at Houston's Valley Oaks Elementary School who had negative balances on their lunch accounts were receiving different lunches than the other kids: cold cheese sandwiches instead of a full tray of food.

He was spurred to take action after hearing last week that dozens of Utah students, whose accounts were delinquent, had their lunches taken and thrown away.

"I'm like, 'Wow. I know that's probably a situation at my school, and the school my son goes to, and the other schools I mentor at.' So I came in and inquired about it," Thompson said.

He not only inquired about it, Thompson learned that many of the kids were already on reduced lunch. Children whose parents couldn't afford the meals that cost just 40 cents a day. He took $465 of his own money and zeroed out the delinquent accounts of more than 60 kids.

"These are elementary school kids. They don't need to be worried about finances," said Thompson. "They need to be worried about what grade they got in spelling."

Thompson says many kids he knows with negative accounts forgo the lunch line altogether to avoid embarrassment. But that's bad for education as physicians have linked classroom performance with proper nutrition.

Thompson believes he made a difference when he made the decision to help those students.

"When I left the building knowing that they were getting fed, they didn't have that stress," said Thompson. "The best money I ever spent."