New Law Combats School Lunch Shaming

School lunch debt will no longer prevent students from receiving meals under a law signed by California’s governor.

SB 265 was authored by state Sen. Robert Hertzberg. It will prohibit school officials from denying students lunch regardless of any unpaid school meal fees. The purpose: to prevent the stigma around those who can’t afford their meals.

When Newsom signed the bill, he says he thought about Ryan Kyote. The Napa County elementary school student saved up his allowance and used it ($74.80) to pay off all lunch debt for his third grade class.

School lunch shaming is an issue that has captured attention in recent years. According to a national survey conducted in 2015 by the anti-hunger organization Share Our Strength, 75% of teachers say their students come to school hungry and 59% say “a lot or most” of their students depend on school meals as a primary source of nutrition.