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good deed denied
July 23, 2019

A businessman who remembers what it was like to rely on free lunches as a child approached the Wyoming Valley West School District in Pennsylvania with an offer he didn't think they would refuse.

Todd Carmichael, CEO and co-founder of La Colombe Coffee, said he told the school board president, Joseph Mazur, that he wanted to give the district $22,000 to wipe out all student lunch debt. Carmichael proposed the gift after learning that the district was sending letters to parents warning them that if they didn't pay the lunch money owned, they could be "sent to dependency court for neglecting your child's right to food," possibly leading to children being removed from their homes and put in foster care.

Mazur rejected his offer, Carmichael's spokesman Aren Platt told The Associated Press, saying the money is owed by parents who can afford to pay up. "The position of Mr. Carmichael is, irrespective of affluence, irrespective of need, he just wants to wipe away this debt," Platt said. Mazur did not return AP's phone calls.

A lawyer for the school board said he doesn't know what they plan on doing regarding lunch debt; previously, there had been talk of placing liens on properties and filing complaints in a district court. As for the foster care threat, Luzerne County child welfare agency officials said it's false to claim that parents who don't pay lunch debt could be sent to court, AP reports, and the school district needs to stop making this threat. Catherine Garcia

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