Oregon’s House votes to ban “lunch shaming” in schools

Salem, Ore.- Oregon’s House approved legislation Wednesday to ban the practice of “lunch shaming” in schools.

HB 3454 is modeled after similar laws adopted in other states that are meant to prevent students from being publicly embarrassed when their parents or guardians can’t pay their school lunch bill on time.

The bill has received bi-partisan support.

According to a 2014 United States Department of Agriculture report, nearly half of all schools have a lunch shaming policy in place. HB 3454 would ban the practice in Oregon by prohibiting schools from forcing students to do chores or other work in order to pay for meals and making it illegal to publicly identify or stigmatize students whose accounts are out of balance. The legislation also requires school districts to work directly with parents, rather than students, when bill payment problems arise.

“This bill is not about letting people off the hook for paying for lunch, it simply says we do not want our children to be singled out and embarrassed in front of their peers because of circumstances that are likely out of their control,” said Rep. Mike McLane. “We want our students to be able to focus on their school work instead of worrying about where their next meal is going to come from.”

Representatives from the Oregon Food Bank, Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon and the Oregon School Employees Association testified in support of the legislation.

The bill now moves to Oregon’s Senate.

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