• 64°

All districts should ban lunch shaming

Is lunch shaming really a practice that takes place in schools? It’s so horrible it’s almost unbelievable.

New Mexico recently passed legislation that specifically bans things like making students do chores to work off lunch debt or trashing lunches that have been served to students who can’t pay.

It’s shocking that a law would be needed to address this issue, but apparently it is.

In poor states like New Mexico, students often can’t pay for their meals. Those low-income students are sometimes treated differently in the cafeteria if their parents or guardians fail to pay meal costs.

If we understand this correctly, schools in several states were taking away students’ food because their parents haven’t paid the bill. Or they were required to do chores at school to work off meal debt. Or worse, cafeteria employees made a spectacle of them by trashing the food on their trays if they couldn’t pay. Some schools even stamped the hands of students whose parents were behind on paying for meals, according to media reports.

We’re not suggesting parents shouldn’t have to pay for student meals, but schools shouldn’t bring students into the situation. They have no control over the matter. If the parents can’t afford the meals, there are free or reduced lunch programs that can help.

School should be a safe place where students feel accepted. It shouldn’t be a place where students are afraid to grab lunch if their parents get behind on the meal plan.

We’d be naive to think this practice hasn’t occurred somewhere in Mississippi. Hopefully, it doesn’t happen in Lincoln County.

School districts across the state should consider creating policies that forbid lunch shaming. There are better ways to collect past due lunch money.