Food bank asks for help fighting food shaming in Texas schools

AUSTIN — Capitalizing on outrage over “food shaming” in Texas schools, the Feeding Texas food bank is launching a campaign asking the public to help pay down school lunch tabs that parents of poor students are unable to pay off.

It’s part of a effort sparked by the Texas House derailing legislation earlier this month that would have granted a two-week grace period to children without money on their lunch accounts while schools reach out to parents to make the account current. Children who run out of money are given a sandwich or cereal instead of the lunch being served to other students. 


More than 78,000 students in the Houston area collectively owed more than $673,000 for unpaid meals, the Chronicle reported last month. Only four of 32 school districts surveyed did not serve different food to students who ran out of money on their accounts.

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ALTERNATIVE LUNCH: School districts offering different meals if kids can’t pay for lunch

Since then, thousands of dollars in donations have been donated to local advocates who are using the money to pay down lunch debt. Rep. Helen Giddings, the Dallas Democrat who sponsored the bill, said calls and emails flooded her office, with people asking how they could help, leading her to partner with the food bank to raise money for unpaid lunches. Story continues below

 


“Research indicates one of the primary impediments to learning is hunger. We can eliminate the pain of hunger in our schools. Our children do not need heroes,” said Giddings. “They just need compassion.”

HELPING HAND: Donations assist student in covering lunch debt

With less than a week left in the legislative session, lawmakers are attempting a last-ditch effort to permit school districts and charter schools to give students who run out of money surplus food, such as hot lunches and snacks. Senate Bill 725 now awaits a final vote in the Senate. 

Feeding Texas CEO Celia Cole said food shaming is group will forward donations to school that adopt policies to ensure students are not food shamed. 

Scroll through the gallery above to see what school lunches look like at Houston area schools

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