Students within the Albuquerque Public School District in New Mexico will no longer be shamed for falling behind on lunch payments. Previously, each student was provided a cold cheese sandwich if they didn’t have money. Now, according to the Albuquerque Journal, the district has crafted a new policy to ensure that each student receives a hot lunch — even if they’re unable to cover the cost.
On Sept. 19, the Albuquerque Public School Board Policy Committee voted unanimously to approve a policy in compliance with the Hunger Free Students Bill of Rights Act, a new state law that prohibits schools from “publicly identifying or stigmatizing children” with unpaid cafeteria bills. It specifically states that “regardless of whether or not a student has money to pay for a meal or owes money for earlier meals, a school … shall provide a United States Department of Agriculture reimbursable meal to a student who requests one.”
The policy also prohibits schools from punishing students for the inability to pay for a meal by forcing them to “do chores or work to pay for meals.”
These new guidelines will allow each student to accumulate up to $15 in meal debt. At this time, APS administrators are unsure of how they’ll cover the cost of each meal. The Albuquerque Journal reports the district’s unpaid meal tab at $35,000 as of last spring.
Lunchtime at school is the perfect time of day to gather around the table with friends for delicious, or sometimes seemingly inedible, midday food. Here is what school lunches look like around the world.