Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Lunch shaming: USDA sets deadline for school policies - NonDoc

Lunch shaming: USDA sets deadline for school policies - NonDoc:

Lunch shaming: USDA sets deadline for school policies

lunch shaming

(Editor’s note: This story was authored by Jennifer Palmer of Oklahoma Watch and appears here in accordance with the non-profit journalism organization’s republishing terms.)
In schools across the nation, including in Oklahoma, children whose school meal accounts aren’t paid in full sometimes face embarrassment in the cafeteria line.
Some schools take away their trays and give them an alternative meal, like a cold sandwich. Others put a stamp on their hand that reads “lunch money” as an alert to parents but also visible to peers.
Practices such as these, called “lunch shaming,” have triggered parent backlash in some districts, including at least two in Oklahoma. The practice was recently banned in New Mexico, and Texas and California are considering similar laws.
A few weeks ago, the Choctaw-Nicoma Park School District halted its practice of stamping the hands of children who owe lunch money after an outcry from parents.
Harrah Public Schools faced scrutiny recently when a substitute cafeteria worker took hot meals from children whose accounts were empty; the children received a cold sandwich to eat instead.

State lacks protocol for unpaid lunches

Oklahoma schools are allowed to take these actions because the state does not have a policy on how to treat non-paying students, letting districts decide for themselves.
Chris Bernard, executive director of nonprofit Hunger Free Oklahoma, said inferior meals, hand stamps and chores for students with meal debt unnecessarily humiliate children, which can lead to them being bullied or picked on and cause mental health issues.
“(Schools) need to be thinking about practices that are not singling out children for something they absolutely have no control over and potentially putting them in a situation where they don’t have the nourishment they need to be successful in school,” Bernard said.
The students affected by these policies typically don’t qualify for the federal free-lunch program, although there may be some whose parents decline to apply. Still, there are often family circumstances behind meal debt, such as a parent losing a job, or working intermittently, or other financial setbacks.

Unpaid lunch tabs add up

But some school officials say lunch programs are costly to run, and unpaid meal debt is a Lunch shaming: USDA sets deadline for school policies - NonDoc:

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