Hunger-Free Students’ Bill of Rights Act passed the state Assembly last week — a significant step toward outlawing “lunch shaming” in the Garden State.
The bill, A-1104, would make it illegal for school districts to punish students if a family falls behind on school meal fees.
This includes publicly identifying or stigmatizing a student by requiring the student to sit at a separate table, wear a wristband or other identifying mark or by serving the student an alternative school meal
Under the measure, schools could not discard a school meal that had already been served, nor require the student to do chores or other work.
Proactive Steps to Help Parents
The bill would also require school officials to take proactive steps to help struggling families if a student owes for five or more days worth of meals.
This includes contacting the student’s parent or guardian to help them complete an application.
School officials would also have to determine if there are other issues causing the unpaid fees and offer appropriate assistance.
All communications must be directed at the parent or guardian, not the student, under the measure.
The bill also clarifies that districts are not requires to refuse to serve a meal to students with unpaid fees.
This is a great step toward ending lunch shaming. The measure now heads to the New Jersey Senate for approval.