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Over 7,000 Georgia students had their lunch debts wiped after donation

One of the districts whose student lunch debt was cleared had recently been criticized for its decision to serve cheese sandwiches to kids with debt.
Colorful school lunch cafeteria trays with a variety of food.
Posted at 2:14 PM, Jan 29, 2024

The Arby’s Foundation, the charitable arm of the fast-food roast beef connoisseur, is committing $1 million to wipe out school lunch debt for tens of thousands of students across the U.S., the nonprofit recently announced. 

A good chunk of the donations will eliminate the lunch debt burden for nearly 7,500 students in Georgia, including those at City of Decatur schools, which recently faced criticism after the district said it planned to give a cheese sandwich and milk instead of a regular lunch to students with more than three charged lunches.

The school district told ABC News it will roll back that plan since it received the generous donation. 

Other metro Atlanta school districts that immediately had the lunch debt cleared were Cobb County School District, Henry County School District and Fulton County School District, according to the nonprofit. Inspire Brands, Arby’s parent company, is based in Georgia. 

The remaining amount of the charitable organization’s $1 million donation, about $800,000, will be distributed among 762 schools nationwide to help over 47,000 students, the Arby's Foundation said. 

According to the Education Data Initiative, the national public school meal debt is $262 million a year, with 30.4 million students who can’t afford food at school. 

The Arby’s Foundation has made it a big part of its mission to end childhood hunger in the U.S., repeatedly partnering with No Kid Hungry and donating to food banks and other organizations. 

“Childhood hunger is something that no one should ever have to face, and school lunch should be a time that kids look forward to without worrying if they’ll have a meal that day,” said Stuart Brown, executive director of Inspire Brands Foundation, in a statement. “We’re honored to have partnered with so many local school districts to help those students enjoy lunchtime with their classmates, and ease the burden on parents.”

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A school lunch featuring a grilled cheese sandwich on whole grain bread.

Iowa won't participate in US food assistance program for kids

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