Senators call on schools to better explain lunch policies

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BOSTON (AP) — The Massachusetts Senate is calling on schools to better inform parents about their policies regarding students who don't have money to pay for lunch.

The budget amendment approved unanimously on Tuesday comes in response to complaints against some school districts that deny hot lunches — often substituting cold cheese sandwiches — to children whose parents have fallen behind on meal accounts.

Critics often refer to the practice as "meal shaming."

The amendment would require school districts to "publish and disseminate" their meal payment policies. It would not go nearly as far as a separate bill that would prohibit schools from substituting a cold meal or taking other punitive action against students over unpaid lunch debt.

That bill has been set aside by the Legislature for more study.

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