Gavin Newsom Signs Bill Banning ‘Lunch Shaming’ in California Schools

In this Sept. 20, 2011 photo, students eat their lunch at Northeast Elementary Magnet in Danville, Ill. The curriculum at the public school is focused on health and wellness, and families have to sign a contract agreeing to abide by that. School lunches are low-fat or no-fat, with fresh fruit …
Seth Perlman/AP Photo

School “lunch shaming” is now against the law in California, according to a bill signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Saturday.

In a press release Saturday, the Democrat governor stated, “Creating a ‘California for All’ means ensuring schools are inclusive, accepting, and welcoming of all kids. These bills help move us closer to that goal.”

The statement continued:

Earlier this year, Napa County elementary school student Ryan Kyote called national attention to how kids at his school were shamed and singled out because of inadequate funds in their school lunch accounts. He showed how at many schools across the country, students whose parents are not able to pay for their lunch are given a cheaper, ‘alternative’ lunch that causes them to stick out from their peers.

“SB 265 by Senator Robert Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) outlaws that practice, ensuring all students receive a state reimbursable meal of their choice, even if their parent or guardian has unpaid meal fees,” the statement concluded.

Reports said Kyote paid off his class’s lunch debt with the $74.80 he had saved in his allowance.

Newsom met with the third grader earlier this year to discuss the problem. “I want to thank Ryan for his empathy and his courage in bringing awareness to this important issue,” the governor said.

The new law prohibits California’s K-12 public schools from giving students a cheaper alternative meal if they cannot afford to buy lunch.

On Sunday, Newsom announced the new legislation on Twitter and stated that “Lunch shaming is very real”:

In June of 2017, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill into law that sought to address the same issue.

Reports said Senate Bill 1566 included an amendment that allowed students a grace period so they could continue to eat lunch at school, according to the Texas Tribune.

Rep. Helen Giddings (D-Desoto) said the measure would prevent kids from “having their lunch snatched away and thrown in the trash and going hungry.”

“I’m delighted that we are were able to get that legislation through,” she commented. “It is a major victory for children of the state of Texas.”

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