Friday, June 23, 2017

Lunch Shaming Call to Action

We believe a follow-up is in order from our Lunch Shaming Call to Action meeting on Wednesday.

As some of you know the meeting was attended by Superintendent Dr. DeMuth and Board President Martha Street. Their presence was unexpected but provided some insight into the rationale for the policy. More on the meeting can be found in this coverage from WFIU.

In the course of the meeting it became clear that the act of shaming the child is the most contentious part of this policy. District officials communicated that the policy was effective and they didn’t see the acts as shaming.

Our group concluded that we would like to request the board do the following:
  • Stop the act of taking away lunches and replacing them with cold lunches when children have debt.
  • Create policy that doesn’t stigmatize children.
  • Create a district policy detailing the steps taken to ensure families are connected with the free and reduced lunch applications throughout the year.
  • Create a policy that states the collection of debt is only directed at parents or guardians
  • Establish a community fund/money in the community fund to be used to ensure that all children have the lunch they choose (the current fund does not seem to prevent lunch from being taken from children. It appears it pays back past debt).

Many of these policy suggestions come from Food Research Action Center. These recommendations were shared with the full board and Dr. Demuth in previous communications.

Next Steps for concerned citizens:
  • Attend the School Board meeting Tuesday, June 27th at 6pm at the MCCSC Administration Building at 315 E. North Drive, Bloomington, IN 47401
    • Provide public comment. To make a public comment arrive a few minutes early and complete a comment card.  Your name will be called when it is your turn to speak.
  • You can also weigh in on the issue by contacting district leadership here.  
  • Share your concerns with the public by writing a letter to the editor.

There is bipartisan federal legislation, the Anti-Lunch Shaming Act of 2017, addressing the issue of lunch shaming. The School Board and Dr. DeMuth seemed unaware of this legislation. Feeding America has a petition you can sign to urge congress to support this legislation.

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