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Donations roll in to keep lunch lady in business

Angela Prattis didn’t expect to cause such a big fuss as the neighborhood lunch lady, but in the face of being shut down by her local government, she said she is overwhelmed by the support from her southeast Pennsylvania community — including rivals at township hall.

“I never expected any of this to happen and I am just so surprised,” Prattis told NBC News. “I didn’t think this would be as big as it is.”

Donations have been pouring in to help the mother of four whose operation, funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and administered by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, was threatened by township regulations last week.

Township officials required Prattis to get a variance if she wanted to keep her program alive at 1437 Powell Road.

If she didn’t comply?

“I would be fined $600 daily or shut down,” she said.

Bill Pisarek, the Chester Township business manager, said Prattis’s operation was zoned residential and therefore needed a variance to offer free lunches. Pisarek told she could apply for a variance if she wanted to stay in business of volunteering.

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“We’re not here to go after her, to hurt her, to take money from her or to prevent her from feeding kids that need the food,” Pisarek told

Prattis said she didn’t have $1,000 needed to file for the variance, but a local lawyer stepped up to help with her with the process, she said.

She said the township council also has waived the $600 in fines.

“From what I hear, and I can’t say that I have seen any of it, people have been donating to the churches that support the lunch program,” Prattis said. “I am grateful. The bad economy has changed our neighborhood and all I want to do is make sure the children have something nutritious to eat.”'s Tracy Davidson and David Chang contributed to this report.

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