Schools deny $22K offer to cover lunch bills, CEO says

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The president of a Pennsylvania school board allegedly rejected an offer from a company CEO to cover $22,000 worth of school lunch debt racked up by parents who were warned that their kids could end up in foster care.

NBC reports that letters were sent to 1,000 parents in the Wyoming Valley West School District about the unpaid school lunch bills. These letters to parents included language about foster care, but Luzerne County’s child welfare agency manager reportedly told the district it was providing parents will false information.

La Colombe’s chief executive and co-founder Todd Carmichael said he made the offer to pay off the debt during a phone call with school board president Joseph Mazur. But Mazur passed on the offer, claiming that the parents who owe money should pay up, according to a statement by Carmichael’s spokesperson, Aren Platt, shared by NBC.

Carmichael additionally penned a letter to Wilkes-Barre area press saying he wanted to help provide free meals to students because he, “…know what it means to feel shame for not being able to afford food.”

Platt shared with NBC that, “The position of Mr. Carmichael is, irrespective of affluence, irrespective of need, he just wants to wipe away this debt.” It was also reported that if Mazur changes his mind, the offer still stands. 

The lawyer for Wyoming Valley West, Charles Coslett, reportedly hopes these letters will encourage parents to pay the debt. Coslett told WYOU-TV, “Hopefully, that gets their attention and it certainly did, didn’t it? I mean, if you think about it, you’re here this morning because some parents cried foul because he or she doesn’t want to pay a debt attributed to feeding their kids. How shameful.” 

Wyoming Valley West is qualified for funding for free lunches to all students for the coming school year.

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