RELEASE: Minnesota Education Commissioner Releases Statement on School Lunch Shaming Practices

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department of education

For Immediate Release

Contact: Josh Collins


November 21, 2017

Previous Announcements

Minnesota Education Commissioner Releases Statement on School Lunch Shaming Practices

ROSEVILLE, MN - Today, Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius released the following statement, in response to recent reports of school districts dumping the meal trays of students with unpaid account balances:

Governor Dayton and I have fought hard to ensure students have nutritious meals and that they are not shamed or punished when their accounts fall short because their parents haven’t kept up payments. After Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid released their report in 2014, we worked with the Legislature to pass a law to address shaming tactics and fund the entire cost of meals for students who qualify for reduced-price lunch. Those new investments have helped ensure that about 65,000 Minnesota kids are certain to have a healthy, nutritious lunch – regardless of their families’ ability to pay. 

Unfortunately, it is clear we have more work to do.

Taking food away from a child in front of their peers, or limiting their access to school activities or athletics over meal debt, is downright wrong  not to mention mean. It baffles me that educators would think otherwise. This is especially frustrating when many of our school districts have millions of dollars in their general education reserves, saved for a “rainy day.” These reserves are unspent funding that kids themselves generated each year, but were not spent on them. Therefore, it seems fair that this funding be used first to feed kids that need it, rather than shame them or deny them a meal.

I am disappointed in my colleagues and school boards that continue to put these policies in place, and I thank the Legal Services Advocacy Project for their continued advocacy on this issue. I call on every school board member and superintendent to review their policies on lunch debt and fees to ensure all kids are treated fairly and have the same access to food as their wealthier peers, who often get a pass because the adults assume the parents will eventually pay.