Who are we?
School Lunch for All was started to ensure that school meals are provided, free of charge, to every K-12 student in America. We are also calling for an end to the indefensible practice of school lunch debt, and school lunch shaming. We believe that no student should go hungry at school and that no child or family should experience financial strain, public shame, or debt in exchange for those meals.
Before COVID-19, millions of students relied on school meals for their ONLY guaranteed meal. Now, due to nationwide school closures, many children are losing access to these meals. Nearly 40 million Americans are out of work, putting further strain on families, food banks and benefit programs. Some cities and states have worked to ensure these school meal services continue — NOW is the time for the rest of the nation to do the same. A child’s access to food shouldn’t depend on geography or income, especially during a crisis.
What’s school lunch debt?
Every year, K-12 students across the country collectively accrue millions of dollars of school lunch debt. How? Because they rely on school meals, but can’t afford those meals. And across the country, students who can’t afford school meals still are entitled to them, even if they can’t pay the full meal price. Instead of providing these meals for free, many districts continue to charge students’ families. As a result, families can accrue thousands of dollars of debt, some districts employ collections agencies to recoup that debt and students are often shamed at school — an emotionally abusive practice.
This current system punishes students and families, and can further amplify the basic needs insecurities it was intended to address, targeting the same students it is supposed to protect.
What’s school lunch shaming?
The cruel practice of publicly humiliating students who run out of money in their school lunch accounts. This can include stamping them, forcing them to return meals or making a point of serving them alternate cold meals.