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Chobani to pay Rhode Island school lunch debt

District said $77,000 owed

(File photo via AP)
(File photo via AP)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Yogurt company Chobani says it will pay the school lunch debt of low-income families with students attending a Rhode Island school district.

Warwick Public Schools made national news when it announced this week that children in families who owe money for school lunches would get cold sunflower butter and jelly sandwiches instead of a hot meal.

The district said it was owed $77,000 and couldn't assume more debt. The district later reversed the decision.

Chobani founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya said in a statement Thursday that as a parent, the news broke his heart. He says access to nutritious food should be a right, not a privilege.

The mayor's office confirmed Friday it's coordinating with Chobani to accept nearly $50,000, the amount owed by low-income families.

Other businesses and organizations have offered to donate.