Lawmakers push legislation to end ‘lunch shaming’ in schools

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Lawmakers are pushing a bill that would end “lunch shaming” in Pennsylvania schools.

House Bill 1403 and its companion legislation, Senate Bill 709, would end practices that embarrass a child when their family is behind on lunch payments. Those practices, supporters say, include ordering cafeteria workers to throw away hot lunches, making children work, or requiring the students to have wristbands or hand stamps.

“Of course we want our parents to pay their school lunch accounts, but publicly shaming our children is not the way to do it,” Rep. Donna Bullock (D-Philadelphia) said. “We need to help parents to apply instead for free and reduced lunch. We need to work with parents to help them become current on their debt.”

Stacy Koltiska, a former cafeteria worker for the Canon-McMillan School District in Washington County, is supporting the legislation. Koltiska resigned from her job after she says she was forced to throw away a child’s hot lunch and serve a cold cheese sandwich.

“I had to take the nuggets, and I looked at my boss like, ‘Are you going to make me do this?’ And I gave him that cheese, and I was so ashamed of myself,” Koltiska said during a news conference on Monday. “For a school that’s supposed to protect them, to further shame and humiliate them is unimaginable.”

The superintendent later denied those claims.

House Bill 1403 is currently in the House Education Committee.

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