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Chobani Yogurt Steps Up, Announces It Will Pay All Outstanding Lunch Balances At Rhode Island School District

Chobani Yogurt Steps Up, Announces It Will Pay All Outstanding Lunch Balances At Rhode Island School District

  • Warwick School District was reportedly "lunch shaming" students who had negative lunch account balances.
  • "No child should be facing anything like this," Choboani founder Hamdi Ulukaya said.

After news reports this past week detailed how a school district would limit students’ meal choices due to outstanding lunch account balances, the head of a popular yogurt company decided it was time to step up and take action.

Warwick Public Schools in Warwick, Rhode Island, said it had accrued more than $77,000 of debt due to negative balances in student school lunches. As a result, the district said it couldn’t afford to take on more debt, and would be serving students who didn’t have positive balances with sunflower seed butter and jelly sandwiches, CBS News reported.

The outrage over the decision drew national attention. Parents claimed that some children were getting “lunch shamed” by peers over receiving the alternative lunches. A fundraising effort by parents in the district was launched, and the district, after receiving $14,000 from families that had negative balances, decided to reverse its policy.

The issue even became a cause for some celebrities, as actor Alec Baldwin and film director Michael Moore decried the original policy change, per reporting from the Providence Journal.

One businessman decided he needed to do more. Hamdi Ulukaya, the founder of the Chobani yogurt company, tweeted out a video announcing that his company would be donating nearly $50,000 to cancel the debts of students in Warwick’s schools.

“No child should be facing anything like this,” Ulukaya said. “I know it breaks our hearts, it breaks many people’s hearts. And we need to step up.”

The business leader also encouraged others across the U.S. to do more to help children.

“We need everywhere, everywhere around the country, to eliminate this, for all, forever,” Ulukaya said. Within his tweet, he also said that “business must do its part,” and that companies had a “responsibility as members of the community” to step in when events like these occur.

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