Published: Tue, April 11, 2017
Tech | By Dwayne Harmon

New Mexico bans schools from 'lunch shaming' students with no money

New Mexico bans schools from 'lunch shaming' students with no money

In what its supporters say is the first such legislation in the country, New Mexico has outlawed shaming children whose parents are behind on school lunch payments. Previously, schools were permitted to make students mop cafeteria floors for food if their families were unable to make hot lunch payments.

State Sen. Michael Padilla, a Democrat and the majority whip, said he introduced the bill because he grew up in foster homes and experienced shaming tactics as a child. And it requires every school to serve every child a healthy meal - applying to all schools, state or private, religious or not.

This new Hunger-Free Students' Bill of Rights was signed into law today by new mexico Gov. Susana Martinez.

School meal debt isn't a joke.

New Mexico is taking a step to make sure that children are not bullied by those who are there to educate them.

A child who couldn't pay for lunch had his arm stamped with a note reading "I can't pay for school lunch". These punishments have come to be known as "lunch shaming".

"I made Mrs. Ortiz and Mrs. Jackson, our school lunch ladies, my best friends", he said.

The School Nutrition Association reported that more than three-quarters of school districts around the country had uncollected debt from lunches a year ago that totaled in the thousands of dollars.

Most districts try to collect outstanding balances through automated calls, texts or emails, and they may also hire an outside collection agency.

Essentially, the law protects students against retaliatory punishments or obligations inflicted on them in the event that they can not pay for a school lunch, according to The New York Times. In school environments that can already be hostile to students who are marginalized or different, schools should play no part in punishing students for being poor or having harried, forgetful parents.

However, Ms. Ramo, whose group worked closely with school nutrition departments in drafting the bill, believes that the intention of the school meal debt policies was never to humiliate kids-even though that was the end result.

"All school districts that participate in the National School Lunch Program are now required to develop a policy on addressing unpaid school meal fees", stated FitzSimons.

A New Mexico school lunch law went into effect last week. He told the Times that "it was really noticeable" to other children that he was growing up in poverty.

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