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Lawmakers Look At Bills Aimed At Curbing Lunch Shaming In Minn. Schools

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) -- State senators and representatives will debate on Thursday legislation aimed at curbing so-called "lunch shaming" policies in Minnesota schools.

Some legal experts define the term as any school district policy that denies meals, bans participation in school activities or punishes kids who have meal debts.

The advocacy groups Hunger Solutions Minnesota and Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid released a list of their examples of lunch shaming policies across the state.

Floodwood Policy: "Seniors with negative balances will not be allowed to participate in the graduation ceremony."

Roseville Policy: "Certain privileges (such as participating in extra-curricular activities, receiving a student parking pass or receiving caps and gowns for graduation) may be denied until debt is paid."

Battle Lake Policy: "If a student has been informed that they are no longer allowed double portions or ala carte items and take them anyway, the student will be assigned detention which may progress to in-school suspension if the behavior continues."

La Crescent-Hokah Policy: "Middle School: Accounts require prepayment. Students may be given a two day grace period (not to exceed $7) before meals are stopped."

Some advocacy groups have accused Battle Lake schools of having lunch shaming policies. The superintendent disputes that.

"The Battle Lake Public School District policy and practice regarding school lunch accounts allows all children a full, school lunch which meets the federal guidelines. It is the same meal provided all students in our regular serving line," Principal Jeff Drake said. "No child is ever turned away at the cashier's station. No child is forced to return items they took from a la carte or double portions. There are potential consequences that would be handled privately in the high school office for students choosing to take additional items beyond the full school meal when the family has a negative account balance."

Minnesota House and Senate members are expected to hear debate regarding the possible legislation on Thursday afternoon.

Full text of the Senate bill can be found here.

Full text of the House bill can be found here.

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