California bans ‘lunch shaming’ in school cafeterias

California governor Gavin Newsom has signed legislation that bans schools from “lunch shaming” students who can’t afford to pay for meals in the cafeteria.

  • The new legislation affects all schools in the state that participate in the National School Lunch Program or National School Breakfast Program.
  • It bans these schools from serving an “alternate” meal to students with unpaid lunch fees as well as “treating them differently.”
  • The passing of the legislation, which traces its roots back to 2017, is largely credited to Ryan Kyote.
  • Kyote, a third grader, made national headlines when he donated $74.50 of his allowance money in 2019 to pay off school lunch debt for classmates.
  • The new law means students with unpaid lunch fees will be served a meal of their choice.
  • The law dictates that the state will reimburse the district for the cost of any meals served to students who are unable to pay.
  • Nationally, an estimated 75% of the 5 billion school lunches served every year are offered at free or reduced price.
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