SCHOOL LUNCH SHAMING FACT SHEET

1) To address “School Lunch Shaming,” U.S. Representative Michelle Lujan Grisham became the sponsor of H.R.2401 - Anti-Lunch Shaming Act of 2017. Ninety members of the House of Representatives (including both Democrats and Republicans) are cosponsoring H.R.2401.

2) This is a bill to amend the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to prohibit the stigmatization of children who are unable to pay for meals.

3) Specifically, this legislation amends the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to establish requirements for the treatment of a child who is a student at a school participating in the National School Lunch Program or the School Breakfast Program and is unable to pay for a meal at the school. A school food authority (SFA) may not permit public identification or stigmatization of the child, such as by requiring a wristband or hand stamp. The child also may not be required to: (a) perform chores or activities that are not required of students generally, or (b) dispose of food after it has been served to the child. Any communication related to outstanding credit must be directed to the child's parent or guardian. A child may be required to deliver a letter regarding outstanding credit that is addressed to a parent or guardian if the letter is not distributed to the child in a manner that stigmatizes the child.

4) On the state level, New Mexico has already taken steps to outlaw the shaming of children whose parents are behind on school lunch payments. The Hunger-Free Students’ Bill of Rights (SB374) passed the New Mexico Senate in a 30-7 vote in early March 2017, and passed the state House of Representatives unanimously later in the month of March.

5) The text of the New Mexico legislation is available via this link: https://www.nmlegis.gov/Sessions/17%20Regular/final/SB0374.pdf.

6) Minnesota and the San Francisco Unified School District, among others, also have adopted anti-shaming policies. Recently, the Houston Independent School District notified its food service department that children with debt should be served the regular hot meal.

7) In 2016, the School Nutrition Association published a review of almost 1,000 school lunch programs, finding that nearly 75 percent of districts had unpaid meal debt.

8) The common sense approach to this issue is to provide school meals on the same basis that we provide school transportation and textbooks.