A plan to prevent students from embarrassment or ridicule in their school cafeterias is making its way through the process at the state Legislature.
It started with a story we brought you in November of 2017, when some parents in Stewartville reached out to us and told us children with negative lunch balances would have their lunches scooped out of their trays, dumped into a bucket and replaced a sandwich.
Representative Tony Jurgens says it was unacceptable to shame students like that, and that is why he drafted the bill.
"My kids are older now, my kids are out of school, and I do remember times when our lunch account would drain fast because my kids were helping to buy lunch for their friends as well," he said.
On Tuesday, legislation prohibiting school lunch shaming went before the Education Innovation Police Committee.
Jurgens said he heard lunch shaming was happening in other school districts as well.
The bill would prohibit school lunch providers from shaming students, and would require schools to post their meal policies on their websites.
The legislation would also create a supplementary fund reserve.
"The reimbursement that comes from the state, the 12 and a half cents and the 52 and a half cents, instead of going to the school, [it] will go into this fund. And at the end of the school year the Department of Education can distribute that to schools that have unpaid school balances on their lunch accounts," said Jurgens.
Representative Jurgens said parents can apply for free or reduced lunches. He said with this bill, he wants to put an end to school lunch shaming, and make sure unpaid lunch balances are between the parent and school, not the kids.