New Mexico Passes Law Banning Lunch Shaming

The stories seem like scenes out of a bad movie, but they are actually scenarios that have happened to real people.

Kids who don’t have enough money on their lunch card to buy lunch forced to sweep floors or wipe down tables in order to get a meal.

It’s a practice various states have in place, according to ATTN News, and representatives from Georgia and West Virginia have proposed legislation making it legal to force kids to work janitorial duties in exchange for a free lunch.

One school in Alabama stamped a kid’s arm that read “I need lunch money,” and reports of school administrators dumping students’ lunch in the trash when they have no money have also gained attention.

The practice is called “lunch shaming,” and it’s something New Mexico lawmakers want to make sure never happens to their kids while at school.

On April 6, Gov. Susana Martinez signed the Hunger-Free Students’ Bill of Rights, which reads schools must handle student lunch debt with the parents only, according to The New York Times. The law applies to all public, private, and religious schools.

New Mexico is the first state to pass legislation banning lunch shaming.

The law also states no school administrator shall throw away a student’s lunch or make them work for a meal. The legislation protects both breakfast and lunch from these harsh practices, meals commonly provided by schools to their students.

Of the developed nations, the US has one of the highest child food insecurity rates in the world, meaning children 18 years and younger are with “limited or uncertain access to adequate food,” according to the USDA.

Arizona is one of five states ranked the highest for food-insecure children, according to Feeding America.

In fact most children receive their primary meal at school, which is often lunch. Because of this, and the lack of schools allowing children a free meal, many communities have started after school programs to help provide children with a meal.

One program in Phoenix is called Kid’s Cafe. They provide after school care and meals to children who qualify for free meals or reduced priced lunches, no questions asked.