California Governor Gavin Newsom has just signed legislation ensuring that no student will go without lunch and it’s all thanks to the dedication of one 10-year-old boy.

Governor Newsom was inspired by elementary school student Ryan Kyote who has been working hard to end the issue of school lunch debt and eliminate cheaper “alternative” meals for students in debt. “I want to thank Ryan for his empathy and his courage in bringing awareness to this important issue,” Newsom said in a news release.

Kyote, a student at West Park Elementary School in Napa, California, made headlines last year when he donated $74.80 of his allowance to pay off school lunch debt for some of his classmates. His actions later led to a meeting between him and the Governor, where Newsom made a promise to sign the legislation once a bill was finalized.

“What we’ve been telling everybody is one down and 49 to go,” Ryan’s mom Kylie Kirkpatrick told PEOPLE of her hope that more states would follow suit. “Millions and millions of children will be positively affected by [this policy] and Ryan couldn’t be more proud. We still have a lot of work to do and hopefully will get something passed at the federal level.”

The new law requires that all California students be provided a state reimbursable meal of their choice, regardless of whether their parent or guardian has unpaid meal fees. It also bans the practice of giving students with debt an alternative meal.
—Shahrzad Warkentin
Featured photo: Gavin Newsom via Instagram

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