New Mexico law bans 'lunch shaming'; but what about Colorado?

New Mexico has passed what's considered a first of its kind law banning 'lunch shaming.' So if a student doesn't have money for a school lunch, they won't be publicly shamed.

KUSA - A new state law in New Mexico is banning what people are calling 'lunch shaming' in schools.

Lunch shaming is when students are singled out for not being able to afford lunch.

For instance, if a student or parent doesn't pay up their lunch tab, some schools identify those kids using wristbands, stamps, or making them stand in separate lines in the cafeteria.

Schools in Alabama and Arizona are stamping student's hands with "I need lunch money".

The law ensures students won't go without food too.

That hits home for State Senator Michael Padilla (D) who introduced the bill.

"When I was a kid, I had to mop the lunchroom floors, had to put tables down, had to pick tables up. I made Ms. Ortiz and Ms. Jackson the lunch ladies that I knew, I made them my best friends and so they kind of made sure that I ate." says Padilla. 

Parents and students aren't the only ones upset with lunch shaming. 

Just last year, a cafeteria worker in Pennsylvania walked off the job after having to take a hot meal away from a child whose parents were more than $25 behind on paying for school lunches. 

States like Texas and California are considering adopting a similar lunch shaming ban. 

We reached out to school districts in Colorado for their respective lunchroom policies. 

Here's what we found out:

Adams 12 Five Star Schools: All students with overdue lunch balances receive a full meal. Parents are contacted over the phone, through email, or letter to settle balance. 

Boulder Valley Schools: Provide students with a full lunch no matter how much is owed. Work with parents to get balance paid over the phone and through email and letters.

Cherry Creek Schools: After 3 days of unpaid lunches, parents are billed and contacted by phone, letter, or email. Those students get a sandwich, fruit, and milk. 

Denver Public Schools: Names are given to the cafeteria cashier. Lunch is provided. 

Jefferson County Schools: Offers elementary school students up to $8.25 in lunch credit. Once they reach that threshold, students get crackers, cheese, and milk. The district's website says middle and high school students are not eligible for ''cash loans or credit".

Littleton Public Schools: Students get a grace period when account runs out of funds. Alternative lunch consisting of a sandwich, fruit, and milk provided. 

None of these districts reported identifying students based on their inability to pay for lunch. 

Aurora Public Schools, Englewood 1 District, and Douglas County Schools did not return calls. 

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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