New Bill Aims To Put An End To "Lunch Shaming" In Schools

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BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio)— A new bill at Governor Charlie Baker's desk takes aim at a pandemic-fueled increase in food insecurity and "lunch shaming".

The bill, sponsored by the House Committee on Ways and Means, requires schools with a majority of students that come from low-income families to enroll in federal programs that would let them provide free breakfast and lunch to students. It also takes aim at a practice known as "lunch shaming".

"Lunch shaming" is when school workers publicly identify students whose parents cannot afford to pay for their hot lunches. Instances included students not being allowed to participate in sports or walk at graduation. Some students had hot meals taken away from them directly and replaced with other meals.

State Sen. Cindy Creem said this bill would put an end to the practice. If signed by Governor Baker, the bill will prevent school employees from publicly identifying students with outstanding lunch bills, ban barring students from non fee-based extracurricular activities, and disallow charging extra fees for overdue bills.

"'Lunch shaming' is really not a way to bring up our children and it's not a way to make our children learn," Creem told WBZ's Kim Tunnicliffe (@KimWBZ).

The bill does contain the ability for schools to opt out of the federal program requirement if they can justify that enrolling in the programs would bring financial hardship upon the schools.

WBZ's Kim Tunnicliffe (@KimWBZ) has the story.

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