Harrisburg – May 10, 2017 – Concerned at reported mistreatment of children with low balances on school lunch accounts, State Sen. Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) today introduced legislation that would prohibit “lunch shaming” by school administrators and staff.
“These reports of schools consciously making the choice to bully children whose families are struggling to pay for school lunches is disturbing,” Costa said. “When did it become ok for children to be publicly shamed for something over which they have no control? We need to be supporting these families and providing assistance, not shaming their children.”
“These practices are unconscionable.”
Costa’s legislation, Senate Bill 709, would require school districts to serve meals to all children and puts a process in place for schools to reach out and work with families in need. The measure will require districts to implement policies to determine if children are eligible for free or reduced price meals as well as methods for notifying parents of the situation, and require districts to determine if further intervention is necessary.
Most importantly, the bill will prohibit schools from marking children or humiliating them in anyway if their family owes money to a school.
“This legislation sets the bar where it should have always been, preventing anyone from ever singling a child out for any reason, especially their ability to pay for lunch, Costa said. “No one can stamp them, make them wear a bracelet, or require them to do chores to eat, as we’ve heard reports of recently.”
“Our children are our most valuable resource. We must treat them as such and show respect for the families at home supporting them.”