New Mexico has introduced a new law that prohibits schools from “lunch shaming” a student who cannot afford to pay for their meals.
New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez has recently passed The Hunger-Free Students’ Bill of Rights into law. The bill was introduced in order to provide “anti-stigmatization and anti-discrimination requirements of schools in relation to students.”
Under the new law, schools will no longer be able to refuse a student a hot meal even if they have an outstanding balance. Moreover, the new bill states that a student will no longer have to throw away a meal after it has been served due to his or her inability to pay.
At the same time, the law strictly prohibits “lunch shaming” a student. For starters, schools are no longer allowed to publicly identify a student with the inability to pay by using a wristband, hand stamp or anything similar. At the same time, a student cannot be asked to perform chores to pay for meals. On the other hand, the new law states, “A school shall direct communications about a student’s meal debt to a parent or guardian and not the student.” This means that schools are now prohibited from sending students home with a letter addressed to their parents.
‘Lunch shaming’ has gone far across America.
The practice of “lunch shaming” a student in school is widely known throughout America. Various educational institutions enact policies that end up with children having their meals taken away if their parents did not pay for their lunch.
According to former cafeteria worker Stacy Myers Yannazzo Koltiska, students at Wylandville Elementary School are being denied of a hot lunch if they have a balance of $25 or more. Instead, they receive a piece of bread with cheese on top. “This isn’t even being toasted,” Koltiska adds. Because of this rule, Koltiska said she was forced to deny first-graders hot lunch. “I will never forget the look on his face and then his eyes welled up with tears,” she remarked. Moreover, Koltiska said that affected children would still be billed the price of a hot lunch even if they only got a sandwich.
Meanwhile, a report from The New York Times revealed that practices on lunch shaming go further elsewhere. In Alabama, a child without lunch funds would be stamped “I Need Lunch Money” on the arm. In other states, children are asked to mop the floor if they cannot afford their meals.