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Students are being shamed and punished over lunch debt, and it may take legislation to stop it

In some school districts, if a student does not have enough money in their account to cover the cost of lunch, cafeteria staff will prevent them from eating a hot lunch and either give them a cold sandwich or, in some cases, let them go hungry. This practice punishes and humiliates students for their parents’ financial challenges. In 2018, the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute released a report detailing the extent of this practice in Massachusetts, and pending legislation may help resolve the problem statewide.

“[Kids] shouldn’t be put in the middle of meal debt, and they shouldn’t be forced to go hungry during the school day. There is so much medical research that kids learn better when they’re fed. We should be finding a way to make sure they are fed and make meal debt an adult-only problem to solve,” said Senior Policy Analyst Pat Baker, who led the study. Read more in the Boston Globe.