Bills Target 'Meal Shaming' At MA Public Schools

May 13, 2018

Lawmakers at the Statehouse are considering proposals that would prohibit Massachusetts school districts from denying hot lunches to children who don't have the money to pay for them or whose parents have fallen behind on meal plan installments.

Critics call the practice "meal shaming" because of the embarrassment it can cause to students. It would become illegal under bills filed by Sen. Cynthia Creem, of Newton, and Rep. Andres Vargas, of Haverhill, that will be heard Tuesday by the education committee.

A recent study by the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute found many schools have policies that instruct cafeteria workers to toss out hot meals and substitute cold cheese sandwiches for students who have exceeded their meal accounts.

Some schools bar students from extracurricular activities if their parents have school meal debt.

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