- Posted by Admin
- On September 27, 2017
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- Alabama, Free Lunch, Free School Lunch for All Program, lunch, Lunch shaming, New Mexico, new york, New york city, School lunch, school nutrition, sna, Texas, USDA
By Lea Kriesberg, American University
On September 6, 2017, New York Public Schools announced that they would provide free school lunches to all 1.1 million students starting this school year, regardless of their ability to pay. The “Free School Lunch for All Program” will reach an additional 200,000 students and will save families $300 per year (Piccoli & Harris, 2017). New York City is joining other cities including Boston and Detroit who also offer free lunch to all students, but New York City has the highest number of students to feed (Piccoli & Harris, 2017).
This change comes along with the national problem of “lunch shaming.” Children who cannot pay for their school lunch may be shamed through practices schools use to entice parents to put money into their child’s account or pay outstanding bills. School districts have adopted policies that some argue are embarrassing and stigmatizing for the children who struggle to pay for meals. At a school in Alabama, a child’s arm was marked with a stamp that read “I need lunch money” (Hrynkiw, 2016). The day before New York City announced the “Free School Lunch for All Program”, a school district in Texas sent an email to parents, warning them that children who do not have sufficient funds for lunch will have their trays pulled from them (Leighton, 2017).
In response to this issue, New Mexico is working to eliminate lunch shaming practices. The “Hunger-Free Students’ Bill of Rights” allows schools to collaborate with parents who need to pay their debts and help them apply for federal meal assistance and prohibits certain “lunch shaming” practices (Siegel, 2017). The law applies to both public and private schools that participate in the national school lunch program or school breakfast program (Siegel, 2017).
U.S. government agencies are aware of this issue and are offering schools guidance to help reduce the occurrences of lunch shaming. The Food and Nutrition Service of the United States Department of Agriculture released a document in 2016 to offer examples of effective strategies and policies to deal with unpaid meal charges and to develop practices to deliver food to the children who need it.
The issue of lunch shaming is currently getting a large amount of attention across the U.S. from schools, parents, and legislators who all share the main goal to continuously provide children with nutritious meals while at school.
Hrynkiw, I. (2016). ‘I need lunch money,’ Alabama school stamps on child’s arm. Alabama.com. Retrieved from http://www.al.com/news/birmingham/index.ssf/2016/06/gardendale_elementary_student.html
Leighton, H. (2017). Texas school reportedly ‘lunch shaming’ students with new policy; ISD says to ignore memo. The Houston Chronicle. Retrieved from http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/texas/article/Texas-school-lunch-shaming-Killeen-ISD-12176810.php
Piccoli, S., & Harris, E. (2017). Students Eat for Free in New York City Public Schools. New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/06/nyregion/free-lunch- new-york-city-schools.html
School Nutrition Association. (2016). SNA National Survey Reveal Increased Efforts to Promote Student Consumption of Healthy Choices. School Nutrition Association. Retrieved from https://schoolnutrition.org/NewsPublications/PressReleases/SNANationalSurveyRevealsIncreasedEffortsToPromoteStudentConsumptionOfHealthyChoices/
Siegel, B. (2017). New Mexico Outlaws School ‘Lunch Shaming.’ New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/07/well/family/new-mexico-outlaws-school lunch-shaming.html
United States Department of Agriculture. (2016). Overcoming the Unpaid Meal Challenge: Proven Strategies from Our Nation’s Schools. Washington, DC: U.S. Retrieved from https://fns-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/cn/unpaidmealcharges_guide.pdf