BAN LUNCH SHAMING: Senate bill would prohibit ‘lunch shaming’ in schools
Senate bill would prohibit ‘lunch shaming’ in schools. The Maryland General Assembly is holding its first hearing in the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee Tuesday on a bill to ban the practice of lunch shaming of students in schools. Lunch shaming is a term for punitive measures taken by schools against students who are unable to pay for their school meals. Officials said reports of lunch shaming have increased in recent years, including reports of students who are unable to pay for their school lunches being limited to less nutritious or appetizing food options, students required to perform cafeteria chores, families being referred to debt collectors, and even threats of indebted students being blocked from graduating. The bill sponsor, Sen. Clarence Lam, D-Baltimore and Howard counties, explained what the bill do if passed. “This bill will protect our students so they aren’t embarrassed or even held from graduating, just because they can’t pay for their school lunch,” Lam said. The bill will prohibit schools from engaging in lunch shaming, require local school systems to establish a meal charge policy that does not shame or embarrass students, specify certain guidelines for any alternative meal options offered to students and require the state to collect data and report on school meal debt.
Lunch Shaming in Schools & How To Fight It
Imagine a little kid at school, in line for his daily lunch. He might not have eaten yet today, he might not have even had anything since he left school the day before. Throughout the country, school districts have engaged in this kind of punishment for unpaid school meals – ranging from stamping children’s hands to making students do chores to earn their meals to throwing the uneaten food in the trash. First and foremost, lunch shaming in schools should be outlawed. Millions of kids rely on school meals for the nutrition they need to get through the day. Ask school districts to make their meal debt policies public. Schools have many different strategies for dealing with unpaid meal debt. Reaching out to your local school or district office and asking them to share their policies publicly – such as on the school’s website – can allow for transparency and important feedback from the community. Educate your friends and family about the importance of school meal programs. The National School Breakfast and National School Lunch Program are federal child nutrition programs and are the most important ways to help millions of children across America facing hunger. More than 30 million children receive free or reduced cost school meals. This fall, join us in ending public lunch shaming in schools.
Lunch Shaming: How western Massachusetts schools deal with unpaid lunch accounts
Students in Warwick who owed lunch money were given a sunflower seed butter and jelly, or a cheese sandwich, instead of a hot lunch option. Parents said the policy could make these children more susceptible to bullying. “I think a kid should get fed regardless of their parents owning money or not,” said Jeffery Richards. The Warwick district, last week, changed that policy. What happens to students in western Massachusetts who fall behind on lunch payments? The West Springfield School District’s website says elementary students can charge up to eight meals after their account balance reaches $0. After that, they will be offered a “Menu alternative.” In Agawam, the District’s website says students are never denied a meal, but they could also receive an “Alternative” if their policy isn’t followed. South Hadley Superintendent Dr. Nicholas Young told 22News the state should work with local school districts to find a solution to student lunch debt, and added that “Students shouldn’t be embarrassed.” In Chicopee and Holyoke, all children receive free breakfast and lunch through a federal program, so no one owes money to the district.
115th Congress: Anti-Lunch Shaming Act of 2017
This bill amends the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to establish requirements for the treatment of a child who is a student at a school participating in the National School Lunch Program or the School Breakfast Program and is unable to pay for a meal at the school. The bill applies to a child who either does not have funds to pay for a meal or has outstanding credit that was extended by a school food authority. A SFA may not permit public identification or stigmatization of the child, such as by requiring a wristband or hand stamp. The child also may not be required to: perform chores or activities that are not required of students generally, or dispose of food after it has been served to the child. Any communication related to outstanding credit must be directed to the child’s parent or guardian. A child may be required to deliver a letter regarding outstanding credit that is addressed to a parent or guardian if the letter is not distributed to the child in a manner that stigmatizes the child. The bill also expresses the sense of Congress regarding several issues regarding the administration of the school meal programs.