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Bloomington Lawmaker Wants To Ban ‘Lunch Shaming’

A high school student picking up a lunch in a school cafeteria.

Photo: U.S. Department of Agriculture

The bill would require all schools to provide a standard school lunch to every child.

A state lawmaker wants to prohibit Indiana schools from engaging in so-called lunch shaming. A proposed bill would ban schools from publicly identifying students who can’t afford to pay for their lunches.

The Monroe County Community School Corporation is one of several that made headlines last year for a controversial policy that some called ‘lunch shaming.’

The district was giving students with unpaid lunch debt an alternative lunch. The school board later reversed the policy after public backlash.

But Sen. Mark Stoops (D-Bloomington) says similar policies are in place at schools all across the state.

“Some schools, believe it or not, if a child gets a lunch and they make it to the end and they don’t have money in their account, they’re required to actually take their lunch and dump it in the trash,” he says.

Stoops says other schools make students clean up the cafeteria to work off lunch debt, or make them wear a wrist band as a reminder to parents.

His bill would require all schools to provide a standard school lunch to every child. It also prohibits schools from throwing away meals due to inability to pay.

The bill also requires schools to take certain actions to address outstanding lunch debt, like checking to see if the family qualifies for free or reduced lunch.

The bill hasn’t yet been scheduled for a hearing in the Education and Career Development committee.

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