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Yogurt Maker Chobani Pays Off Nearly $50,000 of School Lunch Debt for Poor Students

Elias Marat

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Yogurt Maker Chobani Pays Off Nearly $50,000 of School Lunch Debt for Poor Students

A school district in Warwick, Rhode Island earned no shortage of infamy last week. The school announced that it would begin punishing students with unpaid balances on their lunch accounts by giving them sunflower seed and jelly sandwiches until they paid the school, drawing accusations of “lunch shaming” and claims that the school was setting up poorer children for bullying.

However, yogurt company Chobani has now stepped in to pay off much of the roughly $77,000 debt allegedly owed to Warwick Public Schools.

The founder and CEO of Chobani, Hamdi Ulukaya, issued a statement explaining why his company intervened to defuse the raging controversy:

“As a parent, this news breaks my heart. For every child, access to naturally nutritious and delicious food should be a right, not a privilege. When our children are strong, our families are stronger. And when our families are strong, our communities are stronger. Business can and must do its part to solve the hunger crisis in America and do its part in the communities they call home.”

In addition to donating $47,650 to the school, the New York-based company will also donate yogurt to Warwick’s schools.

After the cold sandwich policy was announced, around $14,000 was collected from families with outstanding lunch balances, with the remainder paid by multiple GoFundMe fundraising pages, according to Providence Journal.

The move is likely to spare the school a considerable amount of animus from working families across the country, who often struggle to make ends meet and rely on free or reduced lunch programs to feed their kids.

The “sun butter and jelly” sandwich rule was set to impact about 9,000 kids in the school district ranging from kindergarteners to high school seniors, and was deliberately designed to skirt the law requiring all schools to feed their kids while not specifying what the children should be fed.

Around 70 percent of Warwick school district students qualify for the lunch program, but even kids who can get free lunches can rack up charges on their account by picking up extra items such as milk.

Parents were infuriated by the decision, and word quickly spread across social media and U.S. media outlets.

One parent wrote on the district’s Facebook page:

“Just give the kids lunch … We already lost a janitor, science teacher, don’t have air conditioning, we can’t spring for a chicken patty for a hungry kid? What if this is their only meal of the day?”

While the school is now “reviewing” the policy, its rule has ignited a national conversation about school lunch debt and “lunch shaming” across the country. While cash-strapped districts are facing mounting debt due to their free or reduced price lunch programs, many schools also throw away lunches that students can’t afford, prohibit access to hot lunches, stamp the hands of children whose parents have unpaid balances or require them to wear special badges, and even put children to work to cover the debt.

“We need to step up. We’ll take care of this school’s bill … but we need everyone around the country to eliminate this problem forever,” Chobani’s founder noted.

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Good News

Betty White Turns 99, and Her Tips on Living a Long and Happy Life Are More Valuable Than Ever

Elias Marat

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Betty White, the original golden girl beloved by people of all ages, celebrated her 99th birthday on Sunday.

The spry granny, born Betty Marion White on Jan. 17, 1922, has managed to live a long, healthy, happy life and this can likely be chalked up to her unconventional approach.

The Emmy award-winning veteran actress once joked that her secret to longevity consisted of three simple ingredients: vodka, hot dogs, and her love of pets.

However, her tongue-in-cheek advice is getting new attention, especially given that too many of us have been forced to stay at home over much of the past year.

In 2011, during a Late Show interview with David Letterman, White gave 10 sagely tips on how she’s managed to maintain her verb and energy for so long. With White reaching one year short of a century, the advice is worth revisiting.

Her first bit of advice was to “get at least eight hours of beauty sleep, nine if you’re ugly.” Next, she advised that one should “Exercise. Or don’t. What the hell do I care?”

Third, she opined that one should “never apologize. It shows weakness.”

Her fourth tip shouldn’t give anyone any adventurous ideas, but it’s helpful nonetheless: “The best way to earn a quick buck is a slip and fall lawsuit.”

She then gave the priceless tip that one should “avoid tweeting any photos of your private parts” while also making sure to “schedule nightly appointment with Dr. Johnnie Walker.”

Some of the healthy eaters in our audience may take exception to White’s seventh tip, which is to: “Take some wheatgrass, soy paste and carob, toss it in the garbage and cook yourself a big-*ss piece of pork.”

Her next bit of adice was to “try not to die” and “never dwell on past mistakes,” which may both be easier said than done. Lastly, she recommended that you “don’t waste your time watching this crap.”

Sound advice that we can all relate to, Mrs. White!

White is reportedly spending her 99th birthday simply relaxing, she told Entertainment Tonight.

“You probably didn’t ask, but I’ll tell you anyway. … What am I doing for my birthday? Running a mile each morning has been curtailed by [coronavirus], so I am working on getting ‘The Pet Set’ re-released, and feeding the two ducks who come to visit me every day,” she explained, referencing a 1971 show she starred in that featured celebrities appearing alongside their pets.

Her birthday was also marked by various celebrities, who tweeted out birthday greetings to the TV icon.

“Happy birthday, @BettyMWhite! You’re a miracle in every way,”  wrote Ellen DeGeneres.

“I still get warm when I see this look. Happy 99 baby. You are a testament to living life on your own terms. Sending you a great big socially distanced kiss. I love you @BettyMWhite,” Ed Asner tweeted.

“Betty White bloopers are the best bloopers #HappyBirthdayBettyWhite,” Valerie Bertinelli tweeted alongside a video of hilarious mistakes made on the set of their former show, Hot in Cleveland.

“Wishing the incomparable Betty White a very happy 99th birthday! What’s your favorite Betty White role, friends?” wrote Star Trek star George Takei.

White, who is best known for her role as Rose Nylund in the classic sitcom The Golden Girls (1985-92), has over 75 years in show business under her belt. The comedian became a staple of U.S. television in such shows as The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Hot in Cleveland along with memorable appearances in shows like Mama’s Family and That ‘70s Show.

She catapulted to fame with her first sitcom, Life with Elizabeth, where White played the titular role and became the first woman to have creative control of a program as both a producer and the star.

White earned no less than 24 Emmy nominations and won eight in the span of her career.

When she reached the age of 90 it didn’t slow her down one bit. Not only did White become the oldest host in the history of Saturday Night Live but she also made dozens of cameos. White also starred in a memorable 2010 Super Bowl commercial for Snickers where she got tackled to the ground, football-style.

In an email to the Associated Press, White shared an especially enjoyable perk of old age: “Since I am turning 99, I can stay up as late as I want without asking permission!”

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Inspirational

Genius 12 Year Old Boy On Way To Receive Aerospace Engineering Degree

Justin MacLachlan

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A 12-year-old genius is on his way to receive an aerospace engineering degree in just two years, an incredible feat.

If that’s not shocking and impressive, according to CBS, twelve-year-old Caleb Anderson knew sign language by the time he was only nine-months-old, could read by age one, and knew how to do fractions at just age two.

Anderson is now in the process of attending his second year at Chattahoochee Technical College in Georgia the U.S. and Anderson already got his sights set on working for Tesla owner Elon Musk.

Anderson hopes to get an internship with SpaceX founder Musk, speaking to USA Today earlier this year, he said: “When I was like one, I always wanted to go to space. I figured that aerospace engineering would be the best path.”

Anderson doesn’t see himself as a genius telling CBS: “I’m not really smart. I just grasp information quickly. So, if I learn quicker, then I get ahead faster.”

He added: “This is my life. This is how I am. And I’ve been living this way my whole life.”

Being so incredibly smart hasn’t always been a walk in the park for Caleb though, as he admits middle school was “awful.”

“The kids there, they kind of looked down on me, they treated me like I was an anomaly,” he said. “And I kind of am.”

Despite his previous treatment in middle school, Anderson is excited about college stating quite the opposite, telling USA Today: “It’s really accepting. People might think something about it, but they don’t show it which is really nice.”

Although Anderson is in his second year at Chattahoochee Technical College and he has had much success. The young boy and his family want him to attend Georgia Institute of Technology or the Massachusetts Institute for Technology.

His mother Claire explained: “We want him to be in an environment where he is accepted and not tolerated.”

Professor Mark Costello, chair of Georgia Tech’s School of Aerospace Engineering said Caleb was “the perfect candidate” for the course and will “be very successful” if he attends.

What do you think about Caleb Anderson?

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Good News

Michael Jordan feels “great pride” as he opens new health clinic for uninsured in his hometown

Elias Marat

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Legendary basketball superstar Michael Jordan is giving back to his community in a big way, and has opened a second medical clinic in his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina, to offer critical care to underprivileged community members during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Last year, the 57-year-old former Chicago Bulls shooting guard unveiled the Michael Jordan Family Clinic on Freedom Drive, which he personally contributed $7 million to. The clinic, which provides much-needed access to primary and preventive care to low-income residents, is being operated by nonprofit healthcare group Novant Health Clinics.

During the October 2019 opening, the six-time NBA champion and owner of the Charlotte Hornets tearfully explained that “it’s a very emotional thing for me to be able to give back to a community that’s supported me over the years.”

Jordan has now opened a second clinic alongside Novant Health in hopes to provide comprehensive primary care to underserved communities.

“It gives my family great pride to know that we are making a difference in Charlotte,” Jordan told The Charlotte Observer.

While the opening of the second clinic has long been in the works, the timing couldn’t be better given the dire impact of the ongoing pandemic on people across the United States and especially the Black community.

In April, the Freedom Drive clinic became widely used as a respiratory assessment center where locals had free access to coronavirus “screening, testing, treatment and education.”

“When this clinic opened, I said ‘We’re here for the long haul. Not just in a crisis’,” said Novant Health CEO and president Carl Armato.

“In fact, the first clinic enabled us to better respond to the [coronavirus] crisis. It gave us the infrastructure to set up walk-up testing – no referral needed. It gave us a platform to educate and treat patients – close to home,” he added. “It even gave us a distribution point for our universal masking initiative, where we provided free masks to anyone who needed them. This second location is critical, as it expands our impact and reach.”

Over 14,000 tests for the deadly virus were provided while around 12,600 mobile health appointments were conducted, forcing the Michael Jordan Family Clinic to direct those in need of primary care to another location – and proving the need for the second clinic to urgently begin operations amid the spiking demand in treatment.

“When we came together to mark the first clinic’s opening last fall, no one could have predicted we would be facing a global pandemic just five months later,” Jordan said in a Zoom meeting to launch the new healthcare center.

“I’m so proud of the positive impact our clinic has had on the community so far, especially during [the pandemic],” he added. “Our second clinic will provide critical services to improve the health and lives of more Charlotteans, which is so important to me and to Novant Health.”

The new clinic will be opening on Statesville Ave. in the North End of Charlotte, and will include 12 patient exam rooms, an X-ray room, and a physical therapy center. A full-time clinical social worker will also be on-site.

“We are thrilled the North End community of Charlotte will have access to the same comprehensive care that is transforming lives at the Novant Health Michael Jordan Family Medical Clinic in west Charlotte,” said Armato.

“The impact of the first clinic has been measurable and if [the coronavirus] has taught us anything, it is the importance of having accessible, safe and quality care in communities that need it most,” he continued.

“Michael Jordan’s commitment to improving the health of our communities, and society, is deep-rooted,” Armato added. “We’re so grateful to be his partner in bringing care and resources to those who would otherwise be without.”

Jordan is hopeful that the community has better days ahead.

“We’ve been dealt with some very difficult cards in 2020,” he commented.

“I hope 2021 is going to be much better.”

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