Chobani has paid off an Idaho school district’s lunch debt
(CNN) — Yogurt maker Chobani will wipe out the outstanding lunch balances accumulated over the school year in the Twin Falls School District in Idaho.
The school district said Chobani is donating $85,000 to cover students’ unpaid debt.
Twin Falls is home to a large Chobani facility, which the company says is the largest yogurt plant in the world.
“From year to year, students often accumulate debt that the district is forced to cover and cannot spend in other ways to improve education,” it wrote. “Chobani recently learned of the debt owed in its own backyard and wanted to relieve this burden to the community.”
The Twin Falls School District serves about 5,600 lunches and 2,100 breakfasts every day during the school year.
Spokeswoman Eva Craner told CNN that all students get a regular lunch, even if they have lunch debt. She said that several schools offer free lunches to all of their students.
“If a student gets in the lunch line and wants lunch, they’ll be fed,” she said.
She said the district has more than $115,000 in unpaid debt from previous years.
“Better food for more people is our mission, and no one deserves that more than children. When we learned just how pervasive this issue is, we knew we needed to help raise awareness and eliminate this issue. Our communities are at the heart of everything we do, so we’re honored to do our part here in our backyard,” Chobani said in a statement.
In May, the company paid the debts of low-income students in Warwick, Rhode Island, after schools there announced that they would serve sunflower seed butter and jelly sandwiches to kids with unpaid balances.
Chobani covered $47,650 of the district’s $77,000 debt and donated cups and yogurt to the schools.
Some angry parents accused the school district of “lunch shaming.” CNN affiliate WJAR reported that the district moved to let students choose a hot or cold lunch, regardless of their debt.