automatic News for 11-15-2019

Children write NJ governor to end lunch shaming

School Lunch Shaming Could Be Prevented In Maryland: Report

Some Maryland school districts could do more to avoid shaming children whose families struggle to pay for school lunches, according to a report from Maryland Hunger Solutions. Last school year, Maryland schools served about 240,000 breakfasts and 405,000 lunches to students a day, but not all districts have written policies to prevent school meal debt while protecting children from humiliation and embarrassment, according to the report. County school district policies in the state vary significantly in content and level of protection against meal shaming, according to the report. The mother whose family qualifies for the state’s food stamp program and for free school meals wasn’t told about the change and only found out after her young daughter left classes in the afternoon hungry and with digestive issues, Wilson said. At three districts in the state, students with school meal debt aren’t allowed to take part in extracurricular activities or aren’t able to access their report cards and other student records. 

Two county school districts use debt collection agencies to recover unpaid meal debt. The report analyzed policies in 21 of Maryland’s 24 local school districts. Last school year, the debt that school districts incurred for providing meals that students could not afford ranged from $3,000 to almost $100,000. Wilson said he understands the concerns from school districts about financial impacts, but some easy policy changes could avoid shaming without increased costs. Some of the best practices recommended in the report include an increased focus on making sure all eligible students are certified for free or reduced-price meals; preventing the accumulation of debt by providing meals at no cost to all students when possible or waiving the copay for students in the reduced-price category; and establishing a system to quickly respond to school meal debt as it occurs. 

In 2017, the USDA required all school districts to establish a clearly communicated meal charge policy, including a mandate to distribute the policy in writing to all households at the beginning of every school year and to new students. The state has undertaken some changes to the school lunch program in recent years. 

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

States Take On ‘Lunch Shaming’, But Child Nutrition Still Under Threat

Some Minnesota school districts considered barring high school seniors with outstanding lunch debt from graduation ceremonies, until the state attorney general stepped in to prevent it. School meal programs remain under tremendous pressure to be self-supporting. More than three-fourths of schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program reported some degree of meal debt in the 2016-17 school year, according to the School Nutrition Association. Instead of working to make it easier to enroll students for free or reduced-price meals or raise reimbursement rates to schools, the Trump Administration is seeking changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that would only increase the number of students facing food insecurity, if not lunch shaming. States Take the Lead. 

In 2017, educators were among those who urged New Mexico lawmakers to create the Hunger-Free Students’ Bill of Rights. Currently, fifteen states have passed laws that address how schools handle students with meal debt. California passed a new law last week that guarantees every student will receive a full lunch regardless of their ability to pay. No school in the country will be allowed to single out children with lunch debt with handstamps, wristbands, alternative meals, or by assigning chores not required of students generally. NEA supports the bill, along with other critical efforts to undergird federal child nutrition programs, including a thoughtful reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act and federal support to help make training accessible to more school cafeteria workers. 

Nearly a million students who are automatically eligible for free school meals because they live in SNAP households could be denied those meals under the proposed rule. Four years ago, Richmond Public Schools began serving free breakfast and lunch to all students under the Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The double whammy of losing benefits that support their nutrition at home and losing access to school meals would be devastating to those students’ health and learning. 

Keywords: [“student”,”school”,”meal”]

School lunch shaming will now be against the law in California

School lunch shaming will now be against the law in California. California just took a step toward making its school environments a little more inclusive. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law a new piece of legislation that guarantees all students will receive lunch even if their parents or guardians have not paid their meal fees. The bill, authored by state Sen. 

Robert Hertzberg, says students shouldn’t be denied a meal of their choice because of unpaid fees. Kyote isn’t the only young student to bring attention to the issue of student meal debt. A survey by the School Nutrition Association found that three-fourths of school districts reported having unpaid student meal debt at the end of the 2016-2017 school year. Of those districts, 40.2% said the number of students without adequate funds increased last school year, the association found. In early September, when Jefferson Sharpnack grabbed his lunch tray on his ninth birthday, school staff instead gave him something else: bread and cheese. 

The school system told CNN that the boy was served an alternative lunch which is given to students with deficit accounts. The superintendent later sent a note to parents saying all students would receive the standard lunch regardless of their account balance. Over the summer, one Pennsylvania school district sent a letter home saying any student who owned lunch money should pay or they’d go to foster care. Earlier this year, in May, yogurt company Chobani paid off the lunch debt of some students after finding out a Rhode Island school system had announced that any students with unpaid balances on their lunch accounts would be getting a sun butter and jelly sandwich until their balance was paid. 

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