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New Mexico School Lunch Law Does Away With 'Shaming' Kids

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By    |   Monday, 10 Apr 2017 06:35 AM

A New Mexico school "lunch shaming" law has been passed in an attempt to put an end to practices officials say embarrass children who owe lunch debts.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez signed the Hunger-Free Students' Bill of Rights into law Thursday, directing schools to work with parents to resolve their childrens' lunch debts or register them for federal free lunch programs, according to The New York Times.

The Huffington Post reported that child advocates have complained that "lunch shaming" is becoming increasingly common around the country. Methods include making students clean the cafeteria in front of their peers, or requiring that they wear stickers, stamps, or wrist bands to indicate they cannot pay for lunch.

"All school districts that participate in the National School Lunch Program are now required to develop a policy on addressing unpaid school meal fees," Crystal FitzSimons, director of school and out-of-school-time programs for the advocacy group Food Research & Action Center, said in a statement. "States can develop a statewide policy to ensure fairness for all their students."

"New Mexico's bill protects the needs of students to have access to healthy meals at school, while ensuring that school administrators are able to qualify eligible students for free school meals. Other states should follow New Mexico's lead," FitzSimons added.

The School Nutrition Association reported that more than three-quarters of school districts around the country had uncollected debt from lunches last year that totaled in the thousands of dollars. The New York Times noted that in some cases that debt, which cannot be written off with federal funds, has risen to as high as $4.7 million.

The New Mexico law still allows school districts to withhold a student's transcript or revoke older students' parking passes if school lunch debts are not paid, according to The Times.

"This bill draws a line in the sand between the student and the unpaid school meal fees that their parents or guardians owe, oftentimes because they cannot afford to pay on time," Jennifer Ramo, executive director of New Mexico Appleseed in the Food Research & Action Center, said in a statement. "Many children count on school meals for the nutrition they need to be able to learn and thrive in the classroom."

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A New Mexico school "lunch shaming" law has been passed in an attempt to put an end to practices officials say embarrass children who owe lunch debts.
new mexico, school, lunch, law, child
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2017-35-10
Monday, 10 Apr 2017 06:35 AM
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