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Senate Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: May 10, 2017 11:53 AM
From: Senator Jay Costa
To: All Senate members
Subject: Prevention of School Meal Food Shaming
In the near future, I will be introducing legislation to prevent the awful practice of food shaming children at school meals.

Over the years, I have seen several media stories, including most recently in Pennsylvania, covering situations where school meals have been withheld from students for a variety of reasons. Most of the time a student’s parents owe money to the school district for meals. Regardless of the reasoning of a school district, no child should go without a meal due to the financial situation of the child’s parents.

Even worse, in some situations schools have been marking children with bracelets or stamps to denote that a child’s parents are in arrears for school meal payments. This Scarlet Letter is embarrassing to an innocent child, and it can lead to more harm being done to the child by their peers, in addition to hunger.

School meals are an essential part of the educational experience for children. Countless studies have proven the necessity of good nutrition to allow a child to succeed in school. Denying children school meals and further shaming them by marking them a stamp of poverty is no way to promote a positive educational experience.

My bill will require school districts to serve meals to children, if one is requested, regardless of whether the child’s family owes money to the school. It will further require districts to implement policies for determine if children are eligible for free or reduced price meals, methods for notifying parents of the situation, and require districts to determine if further intervention is necessary. Lastly, the bill will prohibit schools from marking children in anyway if their family owes money to a school.

Please join me by co-sponsoring this legislation.

Introduced as SB709