In an effort to make sure no student goes back into the classroom hungry and unable to concentrate, many public schools around the country began offering lunches on credit to their students – but to catastrophic results.
Over time, the unpaid lunches added up to some real trouble for their budgets. Among Warwick Public Schools in particular, who had championed the movement against student hunger, the outstanding balances of 1,653 student accounts led to a collective debt of $77,000. The result was that these students wouldn’t be able to buy another lunch until all of the debt was paid off – not exactly feasible overnight.
But when the Chobani CEO Hamdi Ulukaya heard the news, he saw an opportunity to make a big difference.
The yogurt company is volunteering to pay $47,650 of the collective debt off, and keep the students operating the way that they should – regardless of their financial status. Additionally, the company is donating a substantial supply of their own products to the schools around Warwick.
As a father, the situation really hit home for Ulukaya. “For every child, access to naturally nutritious and delicious food should be a right, not a privilege,” he said in an interview. “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.”
After the news reached outside of the district, another man was so inspired by Chobani’s actions that he decided to make a difference of his own.
After a little investigation, he found out that the district closest to him was suffering a similar problem – in fact, many districts around the country are. Palm Beach County’s Andrew Levy isn’t even a father, but he shares the same sentiments as Mr. Chobani himself: “Food is something that you shouldn’t have to think about,” he said, after handing the Jupiter Public School district a check for $944.34.
Today, he has a quarterly fund open with the school that allows him to stay on top of their lunch debt – and allows students to stay on top of their performance.
The reactions on social media went haywire. Hundreds of people commented, asking if they could contribute next time.
Doesn’t it make you think that we could all be doing more?