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Chobani CEO offers to pay off Rhode Island lunch money debts after parents say free lunches shame children
Photo by James Leynse/Corbis via Getty Images

Chobani CEO offers to pay off Rhode Island lunch money debts after parents say free lunches shame children

Good for him

Chobani CEO Hamdi Ulukaya has reportedly offered to pay off student lunch debts in Warwick, Rhode Island.

Many parents voiced their outrage after one school district in came under fire after announcing that students with a negative balance would be given sunflower butter and jelly sandwiches.

What are the details?

In a Thursday tweet, Ulukaya wrote, "As a parent, news of #WarwickPublicSchools breaks my heart. Every child should have access to natural, nutritious, & delicious food, so @Chobani is doing our small part to pay this debt.

"Business must do its part," Ulukaya's tweet added. "Our responsibility as members of community. Who will join us?"

A spokesperson for the company told CBS News that the Warwick mayor's office has accepted Chobani's generous donation.

The district was under fire after it insisted that students who owe lunch money to the district would lose their access to choose the lunches they ate.

The district shared the update on its Facebook page on Sunday, which prompted many parents to speak out.

The post stated, "In accordance with Warwick School Committee Policy EFB; Effective Monday, May 13, 2019, if money is owed on a paid, free, or reduced lunch account a sun butter and jelly sandwich will be given as the lunch choice until the balance owed is paid in full or a payment plan is set up through the food service office. Please contact the Food Service office via email — foodservice@warwickschools.org to take care of this pressing matter."

What was the reaction?

One user wrote, "This is absolutely awful. Our schools shouldn't be in the business of shaming children."

Another user added, "Are you serious?? Children are in school ALL DAY with no access to food until u plop in a poorly made jelly sandwich in front of them. Don't punish children for a parents responsibility. You want that money so bad? Chase the PARENT for it. If it means so much to you guys. But don't punish the children it. Or even better. Take those .75 cents out of ur own paycheck. Since you're denying donations. I'm glad you'd rather see children starve than take money to feed them."

Warwick School Committee Chairwoman Karen Bachus said that the balances had gotten wildly out of control, with district families owing more than $77,000 for more than 1,600 students.

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