The state Assembly Education Committee this week approved a measure to outlaw lunch shaming and allow some low-income students to receive free school meals.
The Hunger-Free Student Bills of Rights, A-4856, would forbid schools from publicly identifying students who may have lunch debt and from serving them alternative meals.
This measure comes amid growing reports of New Jersey schools denying students access to extra-curricular activities or serving them a meal that is different from what other students are receiving.
Another measure, A-5855, would provide $4.5 million in state funds to pay the cost of reduced-price meals.
The legislation, sponsored by Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and Sen. Teresa Ruiz, could also help reduce unpaid meal fees in districts. This legislation is especially important as the minimum wage rises. This will likely push more families into the reduced-price category, even though they still struggle financially.
A third measure, A-5903, would require every district to establish a “School Meal Fund” and accept donations to pay down lunch debt.
These are great steps forward in ensuring that all children have the nutrition they need to be healthy and succeed in school.
We’ll keep you posted on the bill’s progress.