Editorial Roundup: AG opinion on lunch shaming protects students
Published 8:50 pm Friday, December 9, 2022
Of all the stresses schoolchildren endure, lunch shaming should never have been on the list.
A recent Minnesota attorney general’s opinion stating that all students are entitled to the same full school meal is a welcome move to protect against future lunch shaming in all our schools.
Children’s lunch trays shouldn’t act as the overdue bill to parents who have a cafeteria debt to pay.
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Although no recent incidents of lunch shaming have received widespread attention, a few years ago a couple of Minnesota districts were in the spotlight for throwing children’s meals into the garbage because the family’s meal bill was not paid up.
A more common practice is to give those students an alternative meal, which, of course, signals to the entire lunchroom that here is a student whose family is poor, irresponsible or doesn’t care enough about their child to pay their meal bill.
As a result of such incidents, the Minnesota Department of Education requested a legal opinion from the attorney general on the school lunch issue. Keith Ellison released that opinion in November clarifying that providing an alternate meal not on the scheduled menu breaks a Minnesota law.
Ellison’s argument is that alternative meals violate the part of the state law that says the meals must maintain the dignity of students by prohibiting lunch shaming or otherwise ostracizing the student.
The opinion speaks on the behalf of students who don’t deserve to be shamed for attempting to eat a school meal that all the other children have been served.
An alternative meal is not a courtesy; it’s a stigma.
— Mankato Free Press, Dec. 5