Sen. John Brooks, D-Seaford, is praising the passage of the Education, Labor, and Family Assistance budget bill (S.7506-b/A.9506-b) which includes a requirement that schools must adopt policies to prevent “lunch shaming” and policies regarding unpaid meal charges.
Brooks and Assemblywoman Christine Pellegrino, D-West Islip, introduced a similar bill in May 2017 that would ban “lunch shaming” (S.6036/A.0995).
Lunch shaming consists of policies and procedures that single out students that are in need of free school lunches or delinquent in paying for lunch. Brooks’ legislation intended to end the practice of stigmatizing children in school who do not have lunch money, or parents who are behind on payments, by ensuring schools implement fair policies.
Both Brooks’ bill and the new budget have one goal in mind — to ban lunch-shaming and make sure that every student is healthy and given the nutrition they need to succeed in the classroom.
Brooks’ bill directed the Commissioner of Education to establish rules and regulations to direct schools to create school meal charge policies. The budget bill clearly outlines steps that schools must take to limit these practices that would humiliate a student for being unable to afford lunch or have delinquent payments.
The budget bill requires a school or school district to contact the parent or guardian to offer assistance with a meal application and further requires a clear explanation of the procedure to handle unpaid meal charges.
“I applaud the Legislature for including my proposal in the budget and am proud that no student in New York will ever have to worry about going hungry at school,” Brooks said. “I am pleased with the final budget’s policy to ban lunch shaming and look forward to its implementation so that no child ever feels embarrassed for not being able to afford a school lunch.”