AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM) – A bill that could end school lunch shaming by creating standards to protect hungry school children gets a second chance in the Texas Legislature.
A procedural maneuver by five legislators, including two from North Texas, knocked House Bill 2159 off the calendar earlier this week, but it is on the local and uncontested calendar today.
State Rep. Helen Giddings (D-DeSoto) authored the bill. On Tuesday she broke down to lawmakers what some schoolchildren are experiencing in Texas lunchrooms. “In many school districts if that account has no money that lunch is taken [and] it’s thrown in the trash, often in the face of that child. Some of these children are as young as four.”
HB 2159 would make it unlawful for schools to single out students who have no money in their lunch account.
Giddings said there are a number of reasons why a lunch account might be low. While making a plea to her peers she gave examples saying some Texas families live just above the poverty line or have a primary wage earner experiencing an emergency or lost job. In some cases Giddings said the delinquency could be as simple as a parent forgetting to put money in their child’s account.
The proposal would also set a time frame for parents to be contacted about the low balance and given information about possibly qualifying for free and reduced-price lunch programs.
Regardless of the reason for the delinquency Giddings said children shouldn’t be punished for adult financial matters and made it clear to lawmakers that she believes the bill deserves a debate on the House floor. “Members, we can do better for our children — they deserve better. And I personally believe that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who harm out children.”