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Stand with Rep. Ilhan Omar: Pass the No Shame at School Act

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"Pass the No Shame at School Act."

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    Stand with Rep. Ilhan Omar: Pass the No Shame at School Act

    School lunch-shaming has taken a horrible turn. In one school district in Pennsylvania, administrators recently threatened to take children away from 40 parents over unpaid lunch debt.1

    Even when school lunch shaming doesn't reach this level, it is still barbaric. Parents owe some form of school lunch debt in more than 75% of school districts across the country. In some, administrators brand children with wristbands, tokens, or sharpies or force them to perform janitorial duties, even though they did nothing wrong. In others, schools publish public lists shaming children or fire cafeteria workers who help children buy lunch.2,3

    Progressive champion Rep. Ilhan Omar grew up in a refugee camp and knows what it is like for children to feel hungry. She introduced the boldest bill yet to end school lunch shaming, and now she needs our help.

    Stand with Rep. Ilhan Omar: Pass the No Shame at School Act.

    Donald Trump wants to make the situation even worse. He recently proposed changing who is eligible for SNAP benefits – popularly known as food stamps – in a move that would take school lunches off the trays of more than 500,000 children and rob families and single adults of food security. These are the people who are already feeling the crush of Trump economic policy of tax handouts for the rich and cuts for everyone else.4

    Children whose families are eligible for food security help are supposed to be automatically certified to receive school lunches. But many schools simply fail to certify kids or misspell their names – leaving them without hot food or their parents on the hook for meals they cannot afford. On top of it all, in 2017, the Trump administration ordered schools to begin collecting unpaid lunch debt, supercharging the problem of lunch shaming.5

    Rep. Omar's bill would tackle the problem in three ways. First, it would ban a host of specific practices that schools use to shame children, including any sort of public identification of children with lunch debt. Second, it would block schools from handing parents' information over to debt collectors who abuse and harass them while imposing extra fees. Most importantly, it would allow schools to retroactively seek federal funding from children who ate free meals before they were certified for help – which would effectively wipe out unfair and unpayable debts.6

    The No Shame at School Act is a progressive, common-sense remedy to one of the many ways our nation is failing the next generation. We need to help Rep. Omar show just how many Americans are sick and tired of school lunch shaming and demand action.

    Stand with Rep. Ilhan Omar: Pass the No Shame at School Act.

    Thank you for speaking out.

    References:

    1. Bettina Elias Siegel, "Will a New Federal Law Finally Put an End to School Lunch Shaming?" Civil Eats, July 26, 2019.
    2. Ibid.
    3. Emily Moon, "Why are more schools going after families for lunch debt?" Pacific Standard, July 26, 2019.
    4. Karen Dolan, "Opinion: Trump’s cuts to food stamps are indefensible, economically and morally," MarketWatch, July 31, 2019.
    5. Moon, "Why are more schools going after families for lunch debt?"
    6. Elias Siegel, "Will a New Federal Law Finally Put an End to School Lunch Shaming?"

    Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP/Getty Images