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This entry was published on 2021-08-06
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Prohibition against meal shaming
Education (EDN) CHAPTER 16, TITLE 1, ARTICLE 19
§ 908. Prohibition against meal shaming. All public school districts,
charter schools and non-public schools in the state that participate in
the national school lunch program or school breakfast program in which
there is a school at which all pupils are not eligible to be served
breakfast and lunch under the community eligibility provision or
provision two of the federal national school lunch act, 42 U.S.C. Sec.
1751 et seq., shall develop a plan to ensure that a pupil whose parent
or guardian has unpaid school meal fees is not shamed or treated
differently than a pupil whose parent or guardian does not have unpaid
school meal fees. The plan shall be submitted to the commissioner by
July first, two thousand eighteen, or sixty days from the effective date
of this section after enactment in conformance with regulations of the
commissioner. After submission of such plan, the school or school
district shall adopt and post the plan on its website. The plan shall
include, but not be limited to, the following elements:

a. A statement that the school or school district shall provide the
student with the student's meal of choice for that school day of the
available reimbursable meal choices for such school day, if the student
requests one, unless the student's parent or guardian has specifically
provided written permission to the school to withhold a meal, provided
that the school or school district shall only be required to provide
access to reimbursable meals, not a la carte items, adult meals, or
other similar items;

b. An explanation of how staff will be trained to ensure that the
school or school district's procedures are carried out correctly and how
the affected parents and guardians will be provided with assistance in
establishing eligibility for free or reduced-price meals for their

c. Procedures requiring the school or school district to notify the
student's parent or guardian that the student's meal card or account
balance is exhausted and unpaid meal charges are due. The notification
procedures may include a repayment schedule, but the school or school
district may not charge any interest or fees in connection with any
meals charged;

d. A communication procedure designed to support eligible families
enrolling in the national free and reduced price meal program. Such
communication procedures shall also include a process for determining
eligibility when a student owes money for five or more meals, wherein
the school or school district shall:

i. make every attempt to determine if a student is directly certified
to be eligible for free meals;

ii. make at least two attempts, not including the application or
instructions included in a school enrollment packet, to reach the
student's parent or guardian and have the parent or guardian fill out a
meal application; and

iii. require a school or school district to contact the parent or
guardian to offer assistance with a meal application, determine if there
are other issues within the household that have caused the child to have
insufficient funds to purchase a school meal and offer any other
assistance that is appropriate;

e. A clear explanation of procedures designed to decrease student
distress or embarrassment, provided that, no school or school district

i. publicly identify or stigmatize a student who cannot pay for a meal
or who owes a meal debt by any means including, but not limited to,
requiring that a student wear a wristband or hand stamp;

ii. require a student who cannot pay for a meal or who owes a meal
debt to do chores or other work to pay for meals;

iii. require that a student throw away a meal after it has been served
because of the student's inability to pay for the meal or because money
is owed for earlier meals;

iv. take any action directed at a pupil to collect unpaid school meal
fees. A school or school district may attempt to collect unpaid school
meal fees from a student's parent or guardian, but shall not use a debt
collector, as defined in section eight hundred three of the federal
consumer credit protection act, 15 U.S.C. Sec. 1692a or file a lawsuit
against such student's parent or guardian; or

v. discuss any outstanding meal debt in the presence of other

f. A clear explanation of the procedure to handle unpaid meal charges,
provided that nothing in this section is intended to allow for the
unlimited accrual of debt;

g. Procedures to enroll in the free and reduced price lunch program,
provided that such procedures shall include that, at the beginning of
each school year, a school or school district shall provide a free,
printed meal application in every school enrollment packet, or if the
school or school district chooses to use an electronic meal application,
provide in school enrollment packets an explanation of the electronic
meal application process and instructions for how parents or guardians
may request a paper application at no cost;

h. If a school or school district becomes aware that a student who has
not submitted a meal application is eligible for free or reduced-fee
meals, the school or school district shall complete and file an
application for the student pursuant to title seven, section 245.6(d) of
the code of federal regulations; and

i. School liaisons required for homeless, foster, and migrant students
shall coordinate with the nutrition department to make sure such
students receive free school meals, in accordance with federal law.