Lunch shaming is a prevalent topic in the USA. In US schools, students are often lunch shamed if their parents fail to pay the money for cafeteria food. There are various techniques for lunch shaming. Sometimes, the students are not provided with proper food. Most of the time, they are given a substitute food, like just a sandwich, which differentiates them from the lunch of other kids. It is a terrible way in which cafeterias shame children so that their parents pay the fees.
A report from 2014 showed that several US schools engage in lunch shaming. However, this year, Ryan Kyote, a 9-year-old, had sparked debate all over the nation regarding lunch shaming. The little kid used his $74.80 lunch tab to get another fellow classmate a meal since he was denied food. The kind gesture went viral and started creating pressure on the government. And finally, it has worked. Gavin Newsom, the governor of California has approved SB 265 on 12th October. It ensures that K-12 students who have unpaid fees for the school meal are not denied the meal or even treated any bit differently from the other students. Newsom was grateful to the 9-year-old Ryan. He commended the little kid for his empathetic move but also admitted that he had helped to bring this grave issue in front of the people. He tweeted that Ryan was right about the lunch shaming situation being wrong. It was up to the government to bring a change in that.
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California, however, is not the first to pass this law. Anti-lunch-shaming law had been introduced previously in New Mexico (the first one) and then in Maine, Texas, Washington, Oregon, and New York. Individual school districts have also taken part to remove lunch shaming. A Rhode Island incident has also propelled the move of many states to go against lunch shaming. The Rhode Island school district once announced that they will only serve jelly and sun butter sandwiches to students who did not pay their meal fees. This brought in a lot of backlash with Chobani, a yogurt company that donated around $47,650 to pay off lunch debt. There have been many campaigns against lunch shaming and charities like the one under Philando Castile have also tried to pay off the school debt of St. Paul, Minnesota.
Governor @GavinNewsom had the honor to meet Ryan Kyote last week. This amazing young man saved his allowance and used it to pay his classmates’ lunch debt. For Ryan, it was just wrong that some kids couldn’t afford to eat lunch. He’s right about that. #CaliforniaForAll pic.twitter.com/4DIse1OEGo
— Office of the Governor of California (@CAgovernor) 9 sierpnia 2019
Now, about 15 states have anti-lunch shaming rules according to the National Education Association. A bill, S. 1119, was introduced by a bipartisan group of senators in the Congress which dictated the Anti-Lunch Shaming Act of 2019. Hopefully, this will stop the differential treatment that many students go through due to the inability to pay the lunch money.
While the California law is good news for most students, it can turn out to be bad for school districts who will have a growing debt when the costs of the food are not met.
IMAGE CREDIT: belchonock