Chobani and GoFundMe Wipe Lunch Debts in School District That Planned To ‘Lunch Shame’ Students

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If you were a kid with a lunch debt in Warwick, Rhode Island, the public schools planned to serve you a cold sun butter and jelly sandwich.

Such tactics, often called lunch shaming, aren’t unique to Warwick. Several schools around the country require kids without money for their meals—including those on the free/reduced lunch program—to be publicly marked with special wristbands or otherwise singled out for negative attention.

A Warwick restauranteur, Angelica Penta, raised $4,000 in donations to reduce the kids’ debts, but the school system refused to take the money. Since the check wasn’t enough to cover the entire balance—a whopping $77,000—officials wouldn’t accept it at all, saying they couldn’t choose which students would have their debts erased. They instead suggested that Penta set up a program where students could apply to have their accounts reduced or expunged.

“Every idea I had got shut down,” Penta tells the local NBC affiliate.

Fortunately for the students, the CEO of Chobani announced this week that his yogurt company will donate another $47,460 to the cause. The remainder will come from a GoFundMe started by Cait Clement, who lives down the street from Penta.

“It’s kind of crazy how two moms who just couldn’t fathom kids going hungry just kind of, you know, in two different platforms, are making it happen,” Clement tells Newsweek. “I never ever thought it would go this far.”

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