COLUMBUS—On Thursday, State Senator Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights) introduced Senate Bill 172, the Hunger-Free Students’ Bill of Rights Act. This bill would direct Ohio schools to work with parents or guardians to help them pay off debts and end all “lunch shaming” practices, which involve treating students differently if their family owes money for school lunches. A 2014 Department of Agriculture report found thatnearly half of all school districts engage in some form of lunch shaming.

“It is disgraceful that some children endure public humiliation due to their inability to pay for school lunches,” said Senator Yuko. “Watching the lunch shaming crisis on national media is unsettling to me not just as a father but as a grandfather, a legislator, and a concerned citizen.” 

The Hunger-Free Students’ Bill of Rights Act follows recently-passed legislation from New Mexico that directs schools to end lunch shaming, such as providing “cold sandwich” substitutes to warm meals for students who owe money. These practices embarrass children and encourage bullying.

This problem has been documented by numerous news reports. Throughout the country, cafeteria workers have been forced to throw hot meals in the trash in front of children who can’t pay. Others have been allowed to offer only a cold cheese and bread sandwich if a student is in debt. Some schools even berate the children for being unable to pay. Rather than allowing them to eat, cafeteria workers in some schools stamp children’s arms with messages like, “I need lunch money.”

“These students did not choose their circumstances. They should never face public embarrassment for having been born into poverty. Our children deserve better!” said Senator Yuko.

Senate Bill 172 would apply to all public schools, charter and STEM schools, and private schools participating in the national school lunch or breakfast program. It would:

  • Direct schools to reach out to families of students who have meal debt, instead of burdening and stigmatizing the student.
  • Require each district or school to provide meal applications to all parents and guardians, unless the school already provides all students a free lunch.
  • Require schools or districts to submit an application for a free or reduced price lunch for any eligible student who has not applied.
  • Help schools monitor nutrition for homeless students and ensure that all homeless children receive free school meals.
  • Ensure meals regardless of a student’s inability to pay, unless a parent or guardian gives permission to not do so.
 
 
 
  
Featured Posts

Senator Yuko Introduces Legislation To Prohibit Child Marriages Under The Age Of 16

 

Columbus – Today, Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights) introduced legislation to update Ohio’s antiquated child marriage law. 



 
 

Senator Yuko Honors Beachwood Track State Champions

 

State Senator Kenny Yuko honored the Beachwood High School Girls Track Team in the Ohio Senate for winning the State Championship. Coach Smith was joined by Mia Knight, Maya Gaines-Smith, Emilykate Hopsum-Boyd, and Hannah Kahn who all received special recognition, along with a Resolution honoring all of them for their accomplishment. 



 
 

Yuko And Clyde To Introduce Registration Modernization Act

 

COLUMBUS –State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) and Senator Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights) will soon introduce legislation to modernize voter registration in Ohio and potentially add over 1 million people to the voting rolls. Ohio continues to struggle to implement federal Motor Voter laws.  This bill will fix those problems and automate voter registration for graduating high school students as well.



 
 

Senator Yuko Honors National Infertility Awareness Week And National Immunization Week

 

State Senator Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights) highlights Infant Immunization Week and National Infertility Week.