By in Rhode Island’s Future
EDITOR’S NOTE: “Lunch-shaming” is also practiced at Chariho, according to the Westerly Sun. If a student’s parents are behind on paying for school lunch, the child is given the kind of “alternative lunch” described in this article. - Will Collette
A new seeks to outlaw lunch shaming policies in Rhode Island public school cafeterias by mandating “Type A” lunches for all students.
The way it’s written, it could also make school lunch free to all students.
“All public elementary and secondary schools shall be required to make type A lunches available to students attending those schools in accordance with rules and regulations adopted from time to time by the department of elementary and secondary education. To the extent that federal, state, and other funds are available, free and reduced price type A lunches shall be provided to all students from families that meet the current specific criteria established by federal and state regulations.” The bill eliminates the phrase, “from families that meet the current specific criteria established by federal and state regulations.”
This language would seem to make all school lunches in Rhode Island free for all students. “The way we interpret this bill, it could make all school lunches free,” said House spokesman Larry Berman.
The late-in the-session legislation was a response to school district policies across the state – from East Greenwich to Pawtucket – that deny students hot lunch because their parents owe money.
It’s become known as the “cheese sandwich policy” after two revealing stories from RI Future. Part 1: and Part 2:
The bill is co-sponsored by representatives Mia Ackerman, of Cranston, John Lombardi and Ray Hull, of Providence, and Bobby Nardolillo, a Republican from Coventry.
There’s no Senate version of this bill. In a joint statement Senate President Dominick Ruggerio and Education Chairwoman Hannah Gallo, said, “If legislation is introduced in the Senate, the Education Committee will work with all parties involved, including parents, the Department of Education, and school districts, to examine current policies in the districts, available options, and the fiscal impact of any proposal.”
“The Type B pattern was devised to provide a supplementary lunch in schools where adequate facilities for the preparation of a Type A lunch could not be provided,” . “Type A lunch was designed to meet one-third to one-half of the minimum daily nutritional requirements of a child 10 to 12 years of age.”
The state Department of Education has recommended against school districts using the cheese sandwich policy, but has maintained that school lunch policies are best set at the local level.
“School lunch policies have historically been under the purview of districts, and we think it’s important that schools and communities continue to have conversations about solutions that work for their students and families,” said RIDE spokesman Meg in a statement.
“Regardless of whether the policy is set at the district level or through state law, we want our schools to carefully consider any potential impact on the student, and to take an inclusive and compassionate approach so all children feel supported.”
Articles in this series
Legislation would end 'lunch-shaming' cheese sandwich policy, maybe much more