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‘Lunch shaming’ to continue at Rhode Island school

(WJAR) Thousands of students in Warwick, Rhode Island schools might lose their lunch choice because they are behind on payments.

While they owe the district money for lunch, school officials have turned down a big donation from a business owner that would have helped pay off any overdue bills.

“Everything that I said got shut down,” Angelica Penta says. “Every idea I had got shut down.”

Penta, who owns Mike and Gel’s Pizza in Warwick, as well as Gel’s Kitchen in West Warwick, said she tried to donate $4,000 to help pay off student lunch debts.

But the Warwick School Department said it doesn’t want the money and issued a statement explaining why.

But the Warwick School Department said it doesn’t want the money and issued a statement explaining why.

“On a number of occasions, Warwick Public Schools has been approached by a local business owner who has solicited funds from the community for the benefit of students that have not paid for their school lunches,” according to the statement. “Each time these offers were made, Warwick Public Schools stated that the school department was not in the position to single out or identify specific students that should be selected for a reduction in their lunch debt while excluding others.”

The statement continues, “The School Department’s recommendation to the business owner is that they create a program to decide which students would be eligible to have their account reduced or expunged by the donations the business owner had available. Applications could then be reviewed by the business owner and donations could be made to accounts selected by the business owner. The business owner has maintained a position that they want to make a single, large donation to the district while leaving the student selection process to the school department. This is a position that the school department cannot support given the school’s mission to treat all children equitably.”

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Kayla Crandall

Kayla Crandall is an Emmy award-winning journalist. She serves as the Social Media and Digital Content Manager at WPTA. Follow her on Twitter @KaylerJayne.

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