Illinois State Senator Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford) proposed a bill to that would require the state to provide school lunches to every student.
According to a press release, the bill is designed to end “lunch shaming”, a practice in which students who are unable to pay for lunch can be stigmatized with a special wristband or handstamp.
“Lunch shaming punishes kids for the mistakes of their parents,” Stadelman said. “Every student, no matter what their background or parents’ income level, deserves to eat. In some cases, this may be the only hot meal the students eat all day.”
Under the proposal, every school would be required to provide a meal to every student that requests one. The school can contact parents directly to request payment for the lunch, but they can’t force the student to wear a wristband. If the school is owed $500 or more by the student’s parents, the district can request the Comptroller to withhold tax refunds to pay off the debt.
The proposal passed through the Illinois Senate Education Committee and will now head to the Senate floor for a vote.