BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- Gov. Cuomo’s “No Student Goes Hungry” initiative aims to stop lunch shaming in New York state; lunch shaming is bullying geared toward students who can’t afford food in school.
The program, detailed in the state’s 2018 budget, prohibits any public act of humiliation toward kids who can’t afford lunch. Schools can no longer require students who receive free lunch to wear a special pin, bracelet, or to be ostracized in any way.
The hours schools provide free breakfast for students in need will also be extended under the measure. Gov. Cuomo proposes using $7 Million in capital funds to support extended breakfast in 1,400 schools.
Nicole Holloway of Child and Family Services of Erie County said while the clinic in Buffalo has received just a few cases of lunch shaming, she expects it occurs more often than reported.
The trauma she said, can have lasting effects.
“I think that it is something that affects our community as a whole.”
Holloway told News 4 for some students, the majority of their nutritious intake comes from school.
“They’re at school for breakfast, for lunch and then they’re just getting one meal at home,” she said.
Gov. Cuomo’s initiative increases the reimbursement New York schools are eligible for by sourcing food from New York state farms; it’s currently 5.9 cents per meal, and would go up to 25 cents per meal.
Lunch shaming and lack of adequate nutrition is also a concern on college campuses. Money for all CUNY and SUNY schools to have a food pantry on campus is allocated in the 2018 budget. Currently, only about half of the campuses have a food pantry.
According to Holloway, counselors approach lunch shaming the same way they approach bullying. If parents suspect their child is a victim of lunch shaming, they should talk to them about it by asking how their experience at school is in general.
Sudden changes in behavior or withdrawing from social situations are signs a child may be struggling with lunch shaming, Holloway told News 4.