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Meal Shaming ended in all New York Schools

Staff Writer |
All schools in New York State have adopted plans to end "meal shaming" of students who do not have money for lunch.

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This is the latest success in the Governor's "No Student Goes Hungry" program, which addresses food insecurity by expanding access to free breakfast and farm-fresh foods as well as ensuring all students have access to school meals without fear of shame.

The program also includes $1.5 million to expand the successful Farm-to-School program.

To date, all required schools have successfully adopted and submitted a plan to the New York State Education Department that will address how they prohibit meal shaming and how meal debt will be communicated to parents while ensuring every student is still provided a meal without humiliation or shame. All school plans have been posted on the schools' websites.

Meal shaming is a disgraceful practice in some schools where children are publicly humiliated in front of their peers by adults for not having money for lunch.

In many cases, these students are forced to wear a sticker or bracelet, or have their name called over the loud speaker. In other cases, these students are given alternative, lesser quality lunches, such as a cold cheese sandwich, when other students get hot lunches. In examples from other states, some children are simply being denied food if they cannot pay.

The Governor's 2018-2019 budget amended the New York State Education Law to require all public, non-public and charter schools that require students to pay for a school meal to develop a written plan to ensure that a student with unpaid meal charges is not denied a meal or treated differently than a student who does not have unpaid school meal charges.

The schools were required to submit their completed Prohibition Against Meal Shaming plans to the New York State Education Department. Schools and districts already participating in programs that provide free meals to all students, such as the Community Eligibility Provision, were not required to submit plans.

The schools must provide students with the meal of their choice. The schools are also prohibited from engaging in other actions that would shame students or cause embarrassment due to insufficient funds for a school meal or having outstanding school meal debt. The plans require that all applicable staff are trained and fully understand how to properly implement the policy.

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