Chobani CEO Hamdi Ulukaya offered to pay off the lunch debts of students in a Rhode Island school district after the district received backlash earlier this week for saying students who owe lunch money would only be served cold sun butter and jelly sandwiches until their balances were paid.
“No child should be facing anything like this,” Ulukaya said in a video shared to Twitter on Thursday afternoon. “I know it breaks our hearts. It breaks many people’s hearts and we need to step up.”
“We’ll take care of this school’s bill because everybody at Chobani was heartbroken and they’re stepping up and they’re going to something about it,” he continued. “But it's just a small one. We need everywhere, everywhere around the country, to eliminate this for all, forever.”
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 help pay this debt— Hamdi Ulukaya (@hamdiulukaya) May 9, 2019
business must do its part.. our responsibility as members of community. who will join us? pic.twitter.com/6HOTjDE4CX
According to The Providence Journal, the yogurt giant donated nearly $50,000 to the Warwick Public Schools district in Rhode Island on Thursday to pay off students’ lunch debts.
Ulukaya’s message comes days after the school district first came under scrutiny for a new policy it announced that would’ve had students who owe lunch money be served only a sun butter and jelly sandwich until their balance was paid.
At the time, a number of parents and social media users criticized the school district on social media, saying its new policy could “shame” students and families who may be struggling to cover the costs of school lunches.
After several days of backlash and a growing GoFundMe campaign, the school district later announced that it had decided it would forgo its new policy of withholding hot lunches from students with debts, according to the Journal.