Saud Anwar

State Senator

Saud Anwar

Deputy President Pro Tempore

Working For You

February 4, 2021

Legislation Prohibiting Discipline Against Schoolchildren for School Lunch Debt Receives Public Hearing in Children’s Committee

Today, as legislation that would prohibit discipline against public school children for unpaid school lunch charges and allow any public or private party to make donations toward paying off such debt received a public hearing in the Children’s Committee, State Senator Saud Anwar (D-South Windsor) expressed his optimism that the unfair and cruel practice will no longer impact children.

“When children are impacted by poverty, one of the worst things we can do is compound the pressure they are already under, yet that is exactly what punishing them for school lunch debt does,” said Sen. Anwar. “If a child struggles to pay for school lunch, it is simply wrong to deprive them of food, force them to eat from a different menu or punish them through withholding other services. I’m encouraged that we may be able to reduce school lunch debt itself through donations to further alleviate this problem. I’m happy this bill is receiving the serious discussion it deserves and will continue to advocate for its passage.”

Committee Bill 36, “An Act Concerning School Lunch Debt,” would prevent the punishment or discipline of a student for having outstanding debt in receiving school lunches. This includes restrictions on delaying or refusing to serve a meal to a child, designating specific meal options to a child or any other action against them solely for holding school lunch debt. Students would further be allowed to purchase one meal per day of their choice and schools would develop a procedure to communicate with a child’s parent or guardian about lunch debt involving advice and referrals to local food security resources such as food pantries or food assistance programs.

Additionally, local and regional boards of education would be allowed to accept gifts, donations or grants from any public or private source to pay off unpaid school food charges.