LANSING (WJRT) (12/4/2019) - Students won't have to worry about lunch shaming policies at some school districts under legislation proposed in the Michigan Senate.
Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, a Democrat from Flint, introduced the Hunger-Free Student Bill of Rights. The bills would prohibit school policies that single out students who owe a balance on their lunch account.
“We cannot expect a child to succeed in the classroom if they are hungry or have been publicly shamed for not having enough money in their lunch account,” said Ananich, who is a former teacher.
The legislation would require schools to provide a meal to all students with a lunch debt unless their parents say otherwise. No schools would be allowed to throw out students' lunches after serving the food.
Schools also would be allowed to use donated funds to cover students' lunch account deficits.
“My bill gives school districts options that will minimize budget impact — like providing federally-reimbursable meals to kids and allowing good actors in the community to help cover the funds — rather than forcing schools to absorb lunch debts into their own limited budgets,” Ananich said.
He began working on the Hunger-Free Student Bill of Rights after talking with Harmony Lloyd of Grand Blanc, whose child had their lunch thrown away in front of other students.
“Kids face so many challenges at school today,” Lloyd said. “Being forced to go hungry or embarrassed by staff because of a financial issue they have no control over is unacceptable. Lunch debts should be handled between the parent and the school, and the child should be kept out of it."
Senate Bill 668 has been introduced and referred to the Senate Committee on Education.