/California plans to end lunch shaming with a new bill that guarantees meals for all students

California plans to end lunch shaming with a new bill that guarantees meals for all students

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A Maryland mom is upset after her kid’s elementary school took away their lunch and gave them a cheese sandwich because of an unpaid lunch bill.
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A bill signed Saturday by California Gov. Gavin Newsom plans to cut the recent trend in schools of “lunch shaming.”

SB 265, which was originally introduced by California State Sen. Robert Hertzberg, will require that all public school students have a “state reimbursable” meal provided by the school “even if their parent or guardian has unpaid meal fees.”

It amends the Child Hunger Prevention and Fair Treatment Act of 2017, which previously stated that students with lunch debts be offered “alternative” meals by school districts, charter schools and boards of education.

The phenomenon of “lunch-shaming” students nationwide, which has included taking away meals on students’ birthdays, firing cafeteria employees and threatening to send students to foster care — has drawn ire from parents, fellow students and business owners in recent months.

‘Worst birthday ever!’: School changes lunch policy after taking away student’s cheesy breadsticks on his birthday

Newsom referred to the story of Ryan Kyote, a third-grader in Napa, California, who used up his saved allowance to pay off his classmates’ outstanding debts after seeing that a student was forced to return her hot lunch because of her debt. The two met in August, which Newsom called an “honor.”

“I want to thank Ryan for his empathy and his courage in bringing awareness to this important issue,” said Newsom in a statement.

Nearly 500,000 children might no longer be automatically eligible for free lunch as a result of a Trump administration proposal to reduce “loopholes” in food stamp access.

Follow Joshua Bote on Twitter: @joshua_bote

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