U.S. Senator Tina Smith, U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar Reintroduce No Shame at School Act

WASHINGTON—Today, U.S. Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN) and U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) announced they will reintroduce the No Shame at School Act, to prohibit public schools from shaming students who are unable to pay for school meals or who have outstanding debt. Additionally, the measure requires schools to certify a child’s unpaid meal fees and authorizes the federal government to reimburse the meals for up to 90 days. The legislation was introduced in the House today and will be reintroduced in the Senate in the coming days.

“Everyone knows you can’t learn or perform well when you are hungry. We need to support students in Minnesota and across the country by ensuring that kids are not humiliated because of an inability to pay for lunch,” said Sen. Smith, a member of the Senate Education and Agriculture Committees. “Two years ago as part of our COVID relief bill, we ensured that every child would have access to school meals for free during the pandemic. Rather than extend the program, Republicans in Congress let it expire, making this legislation all the more urgent. Lunch shaming can stigmatize low-income students and hurt their ability to learn. Our bill would leave children out of it and focus on making sure school districts and the federal government work together to feed kids and set them for success.”

“We are in the midst of a hunger crisis. Inflation and the rising cost of food mean more families than ever are worrying about where their next meal will come from,” said Rep. Omar “I was incredibly proud to pass the MEALS Act to ensure 30 million kids got free and reduced price school meals during the pandemic, and to extend it earlier this month. But the program is set to expire at the end of September if we don’t act  and many students continue to face shaming and humiliation for struggling to afford food. I’m proud to partner with Senator Smith to reintroduce the No Shame at School Act to end this practice once and for all.”

Original co-sponsors in the House include Representative Alma Adams, Jake Auchincloss, Nanette Barragan,  Karen Bass, Jamaal Bowman, Tony Cardenas, Andre Carson, Troy Carter, Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick,  Yvette D. Clarke, Lou Correa, Danny K. Davis, Mark DeSaulnier, Adriano Espaillat, Ruben Gallego, Jesus G. “Chuy” Garcia, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Jared Huffman, Pramila Jayapal, Mondaire Jones, Robin Kelly, Ann Kuster, Al Lawson, Alan Lowenthal, Carolyn Maloney, James McGovern, Gwen Moore, Jerrold Nadler, Grace Napolitano, Chellie Pingree, Mark Pocan, Ayanna Pressley, Jamie Raskin, Lucille Roybal-Allard, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Mary Gay Scanlon, Jan Schakowsky, David Scott, Adam Smith, Melanie Stansbury, Mark Takano, Mike Thompson, Rashida Tlaib, Nydia Velazquez, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Peter Welch, Susan Wild, and Frederica Wilson.

It has also been endorsed by the following organizations:

It has also been endorsed by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC),National Education Association (NEA), Hunger Solutions Minnesota, Appetite For Change, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, First Focus Campaign for Children, Education Minnesota, Students United, American Heart Association, Pittsburgh Food Policy Council, Sunrise Movement, Student Support Network, School Nutrition Director, Jamestown Public Schools, Food Bank of Central New York, Local Food Dude, Teens for Food Justice, Inc., Community Food Advocates, Macedon Public Library, Kona Kids Foundation Inc, City Harvest, HVCS, helpNYC, Divine Truth Ministry INC, Food Bank of Northern Nevada, Connecting Kids to Meals, Olean Food Pantry, Feeding Texas, Central School District 13J, Hawaii Children’s Action Network Speaks!, Second Harvest of Silicon Valley, Galway CSD, Food Insight Group, Edible Schoolyard NYC, Joplin Food Action Network, National Family Farm Coalition, Pillsbury United Communities, Tennessee Justice Center, Divine Truth Ministry INC, Chilis on Wheels, Southeastern Vermont Community Action, NH Hunger Solutions, Giving Fridge Vermont, Crossroads Community Services, Family Learning Solutions, Inc., Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, Legal Services Advocacy Project, Broadway Community, Inc., Northwest Harvest, Cambridge Economic Opportunity Committee, Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano, University District Food Bank, Goddard Riverside, St. Michael’s Saturday Kitchen, Shriver Center on Poverty Law, The Midtown South Community Council, Soul Fire Farm, Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity, and the Virginia Poverty Law Center.