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Connecticut bill prohibits discipline for unpaid lunch bills

The proposal would also allow any public or private entities to pay off such debt. Various Connecticut school districts have seen school lunch debts on the rise.
Credit: FOX61
School Lunch

Connecticut lawmakers are considering legislation to address school lunch debt.

The General Assembly's Committee on Children will hold a public hearing Tuesday on a bill prohibiting disciplinary action against public school children who have unpaid school lunch bills.

The proposal would also allow any public or private entities to pay off such debt. Various Connecticut school districts have seen school lunch debts on the rise.

The issue has also sparked controversies across the country.

A Pennsylvania school district apologized last year for warning parents who were behind on their lunch bills that their children could end up in foster care.

“The bill to prohibit lunch shaming was born out of public outcry, because kids across the country have been publicly shamed or “outed” for having past lunch debts," State Rep. Liz Linehan told FOX61 Monday. Linehan, a Democrat, is the chair of the Committee on Children.

"This bill would require school districts to continue to serve a child lunch, regardless of payment status, and have that lunch not be specific to only children who have debt, so as not to publicly shame or announce the child’s school debt," Linehand said. "Districts also will not be able to pin notes to a child, write on their hand, or do any public display of the debt. Additionally, the bill specifically allows districts to accept philanthropic or private donations to cover students’ debts. It also requires that attempts to collect the debt in writing include information on how to apply for a free or reduced lunch, and the location of food pantries in the area. No child should go hungry, and no child should be publicly shamed for a parents failure to pay a debt."