Over the weekend, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a new measure into law that requires all students to get lunch, regardless of whether their families are behind in paying meal fees.
The new legislation also requires that students with lunch debt are “not shamed or treated differently.”
According to CBS News, the legislation states that all public school students have a “state reimbursable” meal provided, “even if their parent or guardian has unpaid meal fees.” It improves a previous act that required students with lunch debt to be offered “alternative” meals.
In a statement about the new bill, Governor Newsom cited an elementary school student in Napa Valley for calling attention to “how kids at his school were shamed and singled out because of inadequate funds in their school lunch accounts.”
Earlier this year, Ryan Kyote, 9, saved his allowance to pay off his third-grade class’s lunch debt after watching a student be forced to take back her hot lunch due to what her family owed the school reports say.
“He showed how at many schools across the country, students whose parents are not able to pay for their lunch are given a cheaper, ‘alternative’ lunch that causes them to stick out from their peers,” Newsom said in a statement.