A state lawmaker has introduced a bill to help students who cannot pay for their lunches.
It’s called the ‘Anti-lunch Shaming' bill.
Representative John Ray Clemmons has presented the bill two times before.
Students would receive the same lunch as their peers.
This bill would ban schools from taking actions against students who can’t pay for their lunches or those with lunch debt.
“What this bill would do is protect the children and ensure that they are being fed and not discriminated against. This is ultimately an anti-bullying, anti-discrimination piece of legislation," said Clemmons.
Clemmons said the goal is to make sure no child is ever left feeling embarrassed and that they always receive a lunch no matter their family’s financial circumstances.
He believes no child should be penalized for not having the money to pay for lunch.
“It prevents punishing a child, making a child work off a lunch debt, or being discriminated against or stigmatized”, said Ce
Clemmons said parents should be informed about reduced or free lunch options from their children's schools.
“It instructs local education associations or schools to communicate directly with parents. In the language of my bill, if a child has incurred a total up to 5 meals of lunch debt they are to reach out to the parents and work out how to repay the lunch debt," said Clemmons.
If the the bill is passed it would go in effect this fall or the start of the following year.
The school district would be responsible on how the bill would be implemented.
Local Education Agencies - As introduced, enacts the "Tennessee Anti-Lunch Shaming Act"; prohibits a school from taking certain actions against a student who cannot pay for a meal, or who has accumulated a meal debt; requires a school to provide a United States department of agriculture reimbursable meal to each student who requests one; requires a school to assist parents and guardians with obtaining free or reduced-price meals for the parent's or guardian's eligible student. - Amends TCA Title 49 and Title 71.