It’s become so sadly predictable. Seemingly every month throughout the school year . . .
- we hear about another child who has been stigmatized over school meal debt;
- the public expresses its outrage;
- a generous citizen/local business/third grader/major corporation makes a donation to the school or district in question, relieving—if only temporarily—its outstanding meal debt, and then
- the cycle repeats itself all over again.
So what’s the answer to this seemingly intractable problem?
The only true solution, of course, is offering all children a hot meal, regardless of their family’s income level—an idea that’s actually gaining currency, though it’s still far from being a reality.
But two federal bills now pending in Congress would at least lay down clear directives for what schools can—and can’t—do when debt-ridden children show up in the cafeteria.
Last month, Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) made headlines when they introduced the “No Shame at School Act.” Several months earlier, Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) and Representative Deb Haaland (D-NM) had introduced the “Anti-Lunch Shaming Act of 2019“—the same bill Udall has introduced in every Congressional session since 2017, when lunch shaming first drew widespread public outrage. Continue reading