Proposed bills seek to end 'meal shaming' in public schools

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BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts lawmakers are considering bills that would prohibit school districts from denying hot lunches to students who don't have the money to pay for them.

The Legislature's education committee is scheduled to take up the measures Tuesday.

They seek to end what some critics call "meal shaming," because of the embarrassment it can bring to students.

While many low-income students are eligible for free or reduced-price meals, others can be denied food or given "alternative" meals — such as a cold cheese sandwich — if their parents fall behind in payments to student meal accounts.

The legislation would establish a uniform policy in place of varying approaches now taken by school districts.

Laws targeting "meal shaming" have been adopted in several states in recent months, including New York and California.

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