BOSTON — Lawmakers are considering proposals that would prohibit Massachusetts school districts from denying hot lunches to children who don't have money to pay for them or whose parents have fallen behind on meal plan installments.
Critics call the practice "meal shaming" because of the embarrassment it can bring to students. It would become illegal under bills filed by state Sen. Cynthia Creem and state Rep. Andres Vargas that will be heard Tuesday by the Education Committee.
A recent study by the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute found many schools have policies that instruct cafeteria workers to toss out hot meals and substitute cold cheese sandwiches for students who have exceeded their meal accounts.
Some schools bar students from extracurricular activities if their parents have school meal debt.