Lawmakers unveil bill to ban school lunch shaming

Lawmakers unveil bill to ban school lunch shaming
© Getty Images

A bipartisan group of lawmakers wants to ban schools from publicly shaming students who can’t afford to pay for lunch.

Reps. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.), Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and Bobby ScottRobert (Bobby) Cortez ScottBiden celebrates anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act Now is the time to end the subminimum wage for people with disabilities House passes bill to ease standards for age discrimination cases MORE (D-Va.), along with Sens. Tom UdallTom UdallOvernight Defense: Milley reportedly warned Trump against Iran strikes | Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer killed in Afghanistan | 70 percent of active-duty military at least partially vaccinated Biden nominates former Sen. Tom Udall as New Zealand ambassador Senate Democrats befuddled by Joe Manchin MORE (D-N.M.), Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichSenate panel advances controversial public lands nominee in tie vote A plan to address the growing orphaned wells crisis Schumer vows to only pass infrastructure package that is 'a strong, bold climate bill' MORE (D-N.M.) and Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseySenate Democrats press administration on human rights abuses in Philippines Biden celebrates anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act Lawmakers introduce bipartisan Free Britney Act MORE (D-Pa.), introduced the Anti-Lunch Shaming Act in the House and Senate on Monday. 

The legislation prohibits schools from singling out children who have outstanding school lunch balances or who were short on lunch money that day. The legislation would prohibit punishments like a wristband or hand stamp or forcing students to do extra chores. 

ADVERTISEMENT

“No student should be humiliated in front of their peers because their parents can’t afford to pay for a meal,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement. “It is shocking and shameful that this happens to hungry children, but nearly half of all school districts use some form of lunch shaming.”

New Mexico recently became the first state to outlaw school lunch shaming. 

The legislation aims to streamline the process for applying for free and reduced lunch by making clear that Congress expects schools to give applications to families in need, coordinate with other programs to ensure that homeless and foster children are enrolled for free meals and set up online systems to make paying for meals easier for parents. 

“Children who have no ability to pay their debts shouldn't be shamed, punished at school or even go hungry because their parents can't pay their school meal bills," Udall said in a statement. 

"Shaming students or requiring extra chores from kids who need help paying for lunch is inexcusable — not only does it stigmatize our most vulnerable children, it takes away from time they can be spending on schoolwork or with their peers.”