Published: Tue, April 11, 2017
Technology | By Timothy Carter

New Mexico outlaws lunch shaming

New Mexico outlaws lunch shaming

Lunch-shaming has become a form of humiliation for kids who can not afford school lunches.

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.

"We're urging Governor Martinez to make New Mexico a leader in the fight against child hunger by signing this first-of-its-kind legislation".

School meal debt isn't a joke. Some schools use stamps, including an Alabama school that used one on a third graders arm that reads "I Need Lunch Money", and another that just shortened it to "Lunch Money" and stamps students when their accounts are low.

"Children whose parents or caregivers owe money for school lunch will no longer have to miss meals or face public embarrassment in front of their peers", Jennifer Ramo of New Mexico Appleseed, a group that works to fight poverty, said in a March statement supporting the bill.

"It sounds like some scene from 'Little Orphan Annie, ' but it happens every day". Thank goodness they took care of me, but I had to do other things like mop the floor in the cafeteria.

Some schools have told lunch workers to throw a child's hot lunch in the garbage if there's not enough money in his or her account to pay for it, The New York Times reported. The law, which applies to any school that gets federal money for meals, also requires students be fed even if they're behind on payments, the AP reports.

The legislature's action and signing ceremony marked an important milestone: For the first time ever, a state prohibits the so-called practice of "lunch shaming" a student when they are unable to afford the cost of a meal. 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.

In the case of New Mexico, the new law will still allow schools to penalize students in other ways, such as withholding a transcript or revoking parking passes for older students.

Unfortunately, this is not the only state with students facing school meal debt. Some have to wash tables; some have to wear special wristbands; others are told to throw away the food they couldn't pay for.

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