“It’s really traumatizing for those kids” Sen. Smith introduces the ‘No Shame at School Act’
When parents can’t afford school lunch, sometimes children end up paying the price
WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - According to the USDA in 2019 schools provided a 4.9 billion free and reduced school meals during the pandemic.
The USDA issued waivers to allow schools to continue serving hungry kids for free. Now that class is back in session, an old problem has returned: families that can’t afford school lunch and wind up in debt.
Senator Tina Smith, (D-MN) is introducing the “No Shame at School Act” that would protect students from retaliation.
“Sometimes districts have resorted to putting stickers or buttons on a child so that theoretically they would go home and their parents would see it and it would draw attention to their parents,” said Smith, “But in the meantime, it’s really traumatizing for those kids who are so embarrassed by that.”
The bill would prohibit putting any sort of ID like a sticker or a button on a child that indicates that they have a school lunch debt. It also makes it illegal for schools to sell that debt to debt collecting agencies who could then harass parents for payment.
Senator Smith says she and her colleagues are working with the Senate Agriculture Committee for a more permanent solution. A Republican spokeswoman I talked to says the GOP is amenable to the idea as well. The Biden administration says they are also committed to finding a long term solution.
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