Ryan Kyote wants to make sure no child goes hungry.
The 10-year-old boy from Napa was named one of TIME magazine's heroes of 2019 for helping his classmates pay off their debts in the school cafeteria.
His charity on the checkout line started when Ryan saw news coverage of an Indian girl who didn't have enough money to buy lunch at school.
"I felt sad because I didn't want that to happen to my friends," Ryan told KCBS Radio.
So, he dipped into his allowance and used $74 to pay off his classmates' debt at West Park Elementary School.
"My friend Dean had no lunch, so I asked him 'do you want me to buy you a pizza with my lunch card, because it was pizza day?' Ryan recalled.
That gesture snowballed, making him the face of a movement to end debt in school lunchrooms statewide. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law to end shame and hunger at school. It guarantees students receive a meal even if their parents have failed to pay the bill.
"I think hunger is definitely part of it, but the other is about the awareness of debt," said his mother Kylie Kirkpatrick. "A 5 year old shouldn't be put in a position where they have to question 'am I going to have enough money at school tomorrow to be able to eat?'"
Kirkpatrick said she was surprised to learn students owed as much as $25,000 to Napa Valley Unified School District for unpaid meals.
District officials said they never punish students who are in arrears. Still, Ryan decided to help get his friends back on good standing.
"I know I wasn't thinking about those kind of things when I was 10 years old," his mother said.
Ryan's gesture has motivated other states to consider lunch shaming bans. He said it's an honor to be recognized as a by TIME magazine.
"It feels like you did something awesome and you should be proud of yourself," he said.