End Lunch Shaming in Utah Schools

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I (and my children) recently learned that lunch shaming is a common practice in Utah schools. A School Nutrition Association survey of schools reports that 75% of districts nationwide have one form of lunch shaming or another.


What is lunch shaming? It's when a school leverages a child’s well being to collect lunch fees. Lunch shaming involves public ridicule and singling kids out along with denying the meal. Just as the 32 kids that had their lunches seized and thrown away in 2014 at an SLC elementary school, my kids also had served food taken away from them. In my kids’ case, I was behind $9.90. While some can not afford school lunches, I just hadn’t paid bills yet at the start of the month and without a single phone call, my kids are lunch shamed.


Lunch shaming is not something new and is widespread. The problem is so repugnant and significant that even the U.S. House of Representatives proposed the bipartisan Anti-Lunch Shaming Act. Unfortunately, the federal bill only addresses the most grotesque forms and does not go nearly far enough. The State of Texas and the State of California are both working on bills to protect children, and the State of New Mexico passed comprehensive law outlawing shaming children over late lunch fees.


Schools need to be responsible for their accounts receivable and not shift the burden to children. Schools can charge late fees, use collections, or even attempt to work with parents - just like other businesses. There is simply no legitimate reason to hold a child’s well being hostage while they are supposed to be in a safe learning environment.


I, and the petitioners, urge the State legislators to adopt state statute modeled after New Mexico’s Hunger-Free Student’s Bill of Rights Act and request the Utah Governor and Utah State Board of Education to do all that they can with administrative policy to gain the same effect until the law can be passed.

If you want to interact with efforts to make this happen outside of the petition, please send me your contact info with this Google Forum.

 



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