A new policy that prohibits “meal shaming” of students whose families do not have money to pay for lunch is in the works by the Rome school district.

The Rome Sentinel reports that a first draft of this policy for prohibition against meal shaming will be up for approval at the board’s next meeting November 15th. So far, the school district has been practicing a similar policy, even though Cuomo has rolled out a state wide one:

But Blake also pointed out the district has been “practicing the concept before the governor made it law” earlier this year. He added “we have practiced no meal shaming as a district” as directed by a Rome district school food service program and meal charge policy that was revised last fall; that policy calls for “no distinguishment between children who receive free lunches and those who pay,” and “only the school lunch manager and cafeteria ticket manager will have the knowledge of who is receiving a free lunch.” It does not use the meal shaming term, and Blake explained “the law requires us to have a specific policy titled with meal shaming....”

Previously in the Rome district, peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches were made available for students who were either not in good standing regarding payments for lunches, or who didn't have money that day. A message from School Lunch Manager Chris Whitmore mentions the school district’s “policy to make sure all children have the chance to eat and to eat what is on the menu.”

 

The school district serves about 3,500 lunches daily, with over 50 percent at free or reduced prices as based on family income levels.