Rep introduces bill to end 'lunch shaming' in RI schools
‘Lunch shaming’ bill targeting school meal payment could prompt changes in Billings
‘Lunch shaming’ bill targeting school meal payment could prompt changes in Billings. Lunch shaming, the popular term for singling out students with unpaid school meal bills, burst into the national spotlight like an over-squeezed juice box in 2017 after a handful of states passed laws addressing the issue. Schools would be prohibited from singling out students with unpaid lunch debts under HB 414, a bill carried by Rep. Jessica Karjala, a Billings Democrat. The bill passed into the Senate on Wednesday, squeaking past the deadline for bills to move from one house of the legislature to the other. Karjala’s first draft of the bill sparked opposition from education advocacy groups like the Montana School Boards Association. The draft included detailed requirements for schools notifying parents and guardians about unpaid meal accounts, and some provisions that could have been duplication of federal laws. Amendments toning down the bill’s requirements secured support from the group, which executive director Lance Melton said supports the end of lunch shaming. “The real problem here is that the U.S. Department of Agriculture continues to provide guidance to schools that says that serving alternate meals is a legitimate and available options for school lunch programs.” If the bill passes, it’s likely to be problematic for Billings Public Schools existing policy, which was revised in 2017. The bill does not prohibit schools from pursuing debt collection. Chalkbeat reported that Denver’s school lunch debt skyrocketed from $13,000 to $356,000 during the 2017-2018 school year. In 2017, School District 2 estimated that the district had a few thousand dollars in lunch debt each year, and that most of it was collected over the summer.
NM bans ‘lunch shaming’ with Hunger-Free Students’ Bill of Rights » Albuquerque Journal
Lunch shaming involves denying children school meals or otherwise embarrassing them in front of their peers as a debt collection tool to pressure their parents to pay the lunch bills. The practice uses the children as pawns in an attempt to collect money from their parents. This new law and the practice of lunch shaming made international news in outlets such as CNN, NBC, BBC, Fox News and Le Monde because few could believe that an adult would do this to a child or that a law was required to address something so common sense. The Hunger Free Students’ Bill of Rights, spearheaded by the nonpartisan, nonprofit policy organization New Mexico Appleseed, sponsored by Sens. The bill states that schools must extend credit to a family so that the child can still eat, even if the parents need more time to pay or simply forgot, as busy parents may do. This law does not require districts to serve free meals to children ineligible for free meals. Prohibits districts from denying children meals or otherwise embarrassing them to collect the debts accrued by the charge policy. The children whose parents refuse to pay may be the most vulnerable of all. This bill ensures that school counselors are checking in on those children to check if the nonpayment is an indicator of something more troubling. Much of the debt schools accrue may be children who are eligible, but were either not enrolled or were accruing debt between the time they applied and the time they enrolled. Districts can use the date the child applied to begin free meals, versus the date they are approved. Districts are now required to enroll children they know to be eligible who have not or don’t have to fill out applications, including homeless children and children in a household with other eligible children.
California bans ‘lunch shaming’ of K-12 schoolchildren whose parents are behind on cafeteria bills
California joined the small group of states that ban “Lunch shaming,” where kids are given alternative, often less appetizing, meals if their families are behind on cafeteria payments. “It’s important to ban lunch shaming symbolically and it’s unacceptable this happens so much as once,” he said. Lunch shaming happens when kids are singled out with a different meal or denied food altogether because of unpaid school lunch fees. Earlier this year, one Rhode Island school district proposed serving a sunflower butter and jelly sandwich to kids who owed lunch money. Newsom signed the bill four months after Ryan Kyote, a 9-year-old Napa third grader, donated his $74.80 in savings to pay off the lunch debts of fellow classmates at his elementary school. School lunches are just part of the issue – breakfast is also important, Berg noted. Too few school districts do their best to encourage participation in school breakfast programs. If students show up early to claim the free meals at their schools in some districts, “You basically have to admit you’re poor,” which can stigmatize kids who seek out the benefit. Some school districts – like the Los Angeles school system – bring the food right into the classroom, which Berg said was a good idea. “To be schooled, you must be fueled. To be well read, you must be well fed,” he added. Berg pointed to a school breakfast scorecard the Food Research & Action Center, a national nonprofit organization working to eradicate poverty-related hunger and undernutrition in the U.S., issued for the 2017-2018 school year. Just over half of the 2.6 million California students receiving a free or reduced price lunch also had school breakfast, according to the organization’s statistics.