$1 million donation set to wipe school lunch debt for 7,000 US students, says report

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  • Arby's Foundation is alleviating student lunch debt for tens of thousands of students across the US.

  • It has already committed to wiping the debt of 7,413 students in Georgia.

  • An estimated 30.4 million students across the US have student lunch debts.

The Arby's Foundation has committed $1 million to wipe the lunch debt burden for tens of thousands of students across the US, including 7,413 students in Georgia.

The nonprofit announced that students in four metro Atlanta public school districts, will get their outstanding lunch debts paid off with a $203,534 donation, said a Good Morning America report.

The remaining $800,000 will be allocated to schools across the country, seeking to help an estimated 47,000 students.

Rita Patel, Arby's brand president, said the foundation is committed to ensuring reliable access to meals for children, addressing childhood hunger nationwide, and supporting communities.

An estimated 30.4 million students have student lunch debts, totaling a combined debt of $262 million per year, according to the Education Data Initiative.

Amid COVID-19, Congress made school lunches free and universal for two years. The school lunch provisions were part of the pandemic-era stimulus.

The switch away from universal free lunches has been a challenge for some parents. They need to prove they qualify for free and reduced-price lunches.

Some families who don't qualify can't afford to buy school meals, Business Insider's Juliana Kaplan reported in 2022.

An elementary school in Ohio came under fire last year when it excluded indebted children from buying ice cream on "Ice Cream Friday."

Kids with outstanding school lunch debt were prohibited from buying ice cream even if they came with the necessary $1.

The debt problem persists despite legislative efforts such as the School Lunch Debt Cancellation Act of 2023.

Last year, in collaboration with actress and comedian Tiffany Haddish, Arby's cleared student lunch fees in Boardman, Ohio, where the fast-food restaurant chain originated in 1964.

Read the original article on Business Insider