automatic News for 03-28-2021

Warwick School Committee approves policy ending 'lunch shaming'

New Mexico Outlaws ‘Lunch Shaming’ of Students Who Can’t Afford Meals

News.In schools across the country, children living in poverty are subject to “Lunch shaming” when they can’t afford to buy a hot meal. Last week, in what supporters say is the first of its kind in the US, New Mexico introduced legislation that outlaws shaming children whose parents fall behind on school lunch payments. “They’re supposed to help kids who don’t get fed at home get fed so they do better in school,” Mulvaney said. “Guess what? There’s no demonstrable evidence they’re actually helping results, helping kids do better in school.” According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hunger takes a toll on student achievement, and alleviating it helps performance in school. Schools in France and Japan know the importance of serving all students well-balanced, nutritious snacks and meals. From as early as 1867, millions of French school children have been provided daily with a freshly prepared, three-course meal at their school “Canteen.” There is no national school lunch program in France because public school meals are funded by local municipalities. Lisa Stadnyk-Webb, a former elementary school assistant principal, spent one week in the canteen of her daughter’s school when they first moved to France. Japan follows a similar system, in which municipalities pay for the labor it takes to make the meals and parents pay for the meals themselves. The country considers lunchtime to be part of the educational experience, as opposed to a break from school. One municipality in northern Tokyo has even published a cookbook of its most popular school lunches, inspiring parents to follow their children’s school recipes at home. “People on both sides of the aisle were genuinely horrified that schools were allowed to throw out children’s food or make them work to pay off debt,” Jennifer Ramo, executive director of New Mexico Appleseed, told the New York Times.

Keywords: [“school”,”meal”,”children”]

Children shamed so parents will pay the school-lunch bill

In the first day of seventh grade last fall, Caitlin Dolan lined up for lunch at her school in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. Hazel Compton, 12, remembers being given a sandwich of white bread with a slice of cheese instead of the hot lunch at her Albuquerque elementary school. Oliver Jane, 15, said that when she had meal debt at Shawnee Heights High School in Tecumseh, Kansas, she was told to return her tray of hot food and was given a cold sandwich. Marty Stessman, superintendent of the Shawnee Heights Unified School District, said that younger children were allowed to take a limited number of meals despite debt, but that high-school students were not. The problem of meal debt is not new, but the issue has received more attention recently because the Department of Agriculture, which oversees school lunch programs, imposed a July 1 deadline for states to establish policies on how to treat kids who can’t pay for food. After a 2010 overhaul of school nutrition standards, the department heard from schools and advocacy groups about the burden of lunch debt and shaming practices that often result. In March, New Mexico passed a law that directs schools to work with parents to pay debts and ends practices like cold-sandwich substitutes that may embarrass children. Recently, the Houston Independent School District notified its food-service department that children with debt should be served the regular hot meal. Feeding hungry children whose families have meal debt does not solve the problem for schools, which still must grapple with paying the bill. In 2016, the School Nutrition Association published a review of almost 1,000 school-lunch programs, finding that nearly 75 percent of districts had unpaid meal debt. There’s a catch: Schools must promise they will not give alternative meals to children with unpaid bills. In West Palm Beach, Florida, two high-school juniors started School Lunch Fairy to help erase lunch debts.

Keywords: [“school”,”meal”,”lunch”]

In 2017, Pa. lawmakers outlawed ‘lunch shaming.’ Now, alternative meals are back.

According to business manager Peter Bard, it’s enough to put a burden on local taxpayers in the Carbon County school district, who are on the hook for any outstanding lunch bills. The debt load has also doubled in the past two years, Bard said, ever since Pennsylvania outlawed “Lunch shaming” – the practice of denying lunch or providing a low-cost meal to a student with unpaid lunch bills. School administrators say the well-intentioned policy change in the state’s sprawling school code has allowed lunch debt to skyrocket. In 2017, lawmakers removed a provision that allowed schools to offer “Alternative meals” to children with $25 or more in unpaid lunch bills. If a child owes more than $50 in lunch fees, schools can now serve them alternative meals until the balance is paid or until their parents agree to a repayment plan. Mike Straub, a spokesperson for House Majority Leader Bryan Cutler, said lawmakers decided to bring back the alternative meal provision after hearing that school districts had racked up thousands of dollars in unpaid lunch bills. “[Providing] alternative lunch makes sure families know these debts need to be paid. School administrators say the new law provides a crucial mechanism for them to recoup unpaid lunch money. “Lunch shaming punishes and stigmatizes children and often leads to bullying,” said Maura McInerney, legal director at the Philadelphia-based Education Law Center, which opposes the new requirement. Even though Upper Moreland offers a free and reduced lunch application to families with unpaid lunch bills, the district still ended the school year with almost $3,000 in lunch debt. One student in the district accumulated an unpaid balance of more than $440 – the equivalent of eating a free lunch almost every day of the school year. “We give every opportunity to apply for free and reduced lunch and every opportunity to families who are backed up to get on a payment plan.”

Keywords: [“lunch”,”School”,”District”]
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