When students arrive in the cafeteria without cash in hand or in their school meal accounts, they accrue meal debt. Unfortunately, many school systems – even here in Maryland — utilize practices that shame, stigmatize, or even punish students in an attempt to ensure their families repay their accrued school meal debt. Maryland Hunger Solutions has recently released a report, which takes a look at the current policies that exist in Maryland to address this issue and outlines best practices for preventing both debt and stigma in the cafeteria.
We are also supporting efforts at the federal level to put an end to embarrassing practices and to reduce school meal debt. In response to this nationwide issue, Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) have introduced the No Shame at School Act, which would amend the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act. This bill would not only abolish these harsh practices, it would require schools to take the necessary steps to ensure that all students who are eligible for free meals receive them, and permit school systems to retroactively claim free and reduced-price school meal reimbursement rates for students who are certified to receive them during the school year.
Maryland Hunger Solutions will share the sign-on letter with Maryland’s Congressional delegation to encourage them to cosponsor this important piece of legislation.
We are collecting signatures of both individuals and organizations. Please let us know if you are interested in signing-on by 12:00 p.m. on Monday, November 4th. In addition, please share this letter with any individuals or organizations that might also be interested in showing their support for the No Shame at School Act.
If you have any questions, would like more information, or plan to sign-on, please reach out to Julia Gross at firstname.lastname@example.org.