New Mexico Lawmaker Outlaws 'Lunch-Shaming' Decades After Experiencing It First-Hand During Childhood

By OIivia Etienne, Parent Herald April 13, 09:42 pm

In New Mexico, gone will be the days of children eating hot lunches in exchange of cleaning the cafeteria. State governor Susana Martinez recently approved a bill that outlaws "lunch shaming" as a form of discrimination among school kids that stigmatized and penalized students for almost half a century.

Lawmaker, Michael Padilla, proposed the law that aims to stop the exact shaming he experienced over the course of his childhood. The senator lived a poor life at the foster care during younger years and he struggled to pay meal dues at school. Just to fill his grumbling stomach during school days, Padilla had no other choice and forced himself to pay in terms of labor, or else he gets no hot lunch.

Padilla recalled that there are times he got to skip the cleaning job. However, no decent lunch should be expected. The 44-year-old lawmaker told NBC News that in one instance, he got only a piece of bread and cheese.

This cruel deprivation marked into his consciousness of Padilla until he became adult. Decades past and Padilla said he was shocked to know that it was still happening in the country.

"We're one of the wealthiest and most powerful nations in the world and we're not feeding our children lunch," Padilla told the publication. "They are experiencing real hunger in the middle of the school day and to me that's just unacceptable."

Formally known as the Hunger-Free Students Bill of Rights, the anti-lunch shaming bill is the nation's first move end the discrimination among students who cannot afford hot lunches. Under the initiative, students from the all income brackets are given equal rights in receiving decent meals at school.

The law also required schools to adhere to all anti-stigmatization practices. Per NPR, the no-shaming act also discourages school to force students in trashing their food for not being able to pay their current or prior lunches.

After New Mexico took a progressive leap in ending the discrimination, state of California followed the trail and lobbied for the same version before the local legislature. Senator Robert Hertzberg filed the Child Hunger Prevention and Fair Treatment Act of 2017, according to CBS Local-San Francisco Bay Area.

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