Chobani to Pay Off Students’ Lunch Debt
Greek yogurt company Chobani will pay off the bulk of a $77,000 lunch money debt owed by low-income students in Warwick, Rhode Island. The company and its founder/CEO Hamdi Ulukaya offered the donation after learning that 1,653 Warwick Public School students who owed money for hot lunches would be served conspicuous sun butter and jelly sandwiches until their debts were paid.
"As a parent, this news breaks my heart," Ulukaya said in statement. "For every child, access to naturally nutritious and delicious food should be a right, not a privilege. When our children are strong, our families are stronger. And when our families are strong, our communities are stronger. Business can and must do its part to solve the hunger crisis in America and do its part in the communities they call home."
The company is also donating yogurt to students.
In addition to the nutritional concerns, critics called Warwick’s decision an example of “lunch shaming” because it singles out students who cannot afford a hot meal. Lunch shaming is a growing concern in public schools and has even prompted federal legislation. In 2017, a group of bipartisan lawmakers introduced the Anti-Lunch Shaming Act of 2017.
This may be the last time a private company has to step up to provide food for kids in Warwick. Thanks to public outcry, the school district now says it is reviewing its policies.