Minnesota ends school lunch shaming over student debt

Minnesota lawmakers approved changes to school meal programs that stops what many advocates call "lunch shaming." And there's hope more steps will be taken to make free school lunches permanent. 

Colleen Moriarty said she’s been working for the last decade to make sure public school students are no longer embarrassed because they can’t afford their lunch bill.  

"Ten years ago we heard about snapping rubber bands on kids’ wrists, collection agencies going after families…lunches being dumped in front of kids," Moriarty said. "Or, you get to enter your code for lunch and they say ‘oh no, I’ll take that lunch from you…you can just have this cheese sandwich …or you can have this cheese sandwich and eat it in the principal’s office.’"

But a new education finance bill passed by state lawmakers changes how schools deal with students with lunch debts.

The move from state lawmakers comes after the Biden administration gave school districts nationwide the greenlight to continue offering free lunches for students until the end of the 2022 school year.  

But advocates in the state want to see bigger changes.  

"We are working diligently with our national partners…to try and build up enough momentum under the idea that lunches should be free."