Education

Chobani Donates Over $47K To Forgive Student Lunch Debt In Rhode Island

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Grace Carr Reporter
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Chobani donated $47,650 to Warwick Public Schools in Rhode Island to help the district pay off a debt accrued by students unable to pay their lunch fees.

The yogurt company’s CEO, Hamdi Ulukaya, announced the offer in a Thursday tweet, saying that all students should have access to delicious and nutritious food in school, no matter their ability to pay.

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Chobani will also donate yogurt and cups to the Warwick community, CNN reported Friday. The mayor’s office accepted the company’s donation, according to a Chobani representative, CBS News reported.

The district’s total outstanding lunch debt is $77,000. Over 1,600 students in the district of 8,700 students owe money for school lunches, according to NBC News.

Chobani’s donation comes after the district received flak for announcing Sunday that students who couldn’t afford to pay their lunch fees would receive sunflower butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch rather than the slew of hot lunch options provided to other students. The district defended the move as a necessary one to prevent it from absorbing more debt it can’t afford, CBS reported Thursday.

It also clarified that students are fed well under the policy. “No students are left without a meal under our current policy. Once the student’s access to à la carte items has been shut off, students are provided with a balanced lunch of a sun butter and jelly sandwich … vegetables, fruit, and milk,” Warwick School Committee Chairwoman Karen Bachus explained in a Wednesday statement on Facebook.

Restaurant owner Angelica Penta offered to donate $4,000 to help pay for student lunches, but her donation was denied, according to CBS. The district is reconsidering the policy. (RELATED: Vegan Lobbyists File Lawsuits To Ban A Bunch Of Delicious Meat From School Lunches)

“After careful review and consideration the policy subcommittee is recommending that the Warwick School Committee allow the students their choice of lunch regardless of their account status,” Bachus said Wednesday.

Warwick Public Schools is part of the federally assisted National School Lunch Program, which provides food at reduced or no-cost prices for students who qualify for the program.

Chobani did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment in time for publication.

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