by: Natalie Dreier, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
New Mexico is taking a step to make sure that children are not bullied by those who are there to educate them.
The state is believed to be the first in the country to make “lunch shaming” by schools illegal.
Gov. Susana Martinez signed the “Hunger-Free Students’ Bill of Rights.”
It outlaws embarrassing children with stamps on their arms or forcing kids to clean their schools’ cafeterias when their lunch money accounts are low or come up short.
Some schools have told lunch workers to throw a child’s hot lunch in the garbage if there’s not enough money in his or her account to pay for it, The New York Times reported.
The practice of embarrassing a child without the needed funds for lunch has come to light on social media.
Last month a tweet went viral after a student came home with the words “lunch money” stamped on his wrist.
The child in that case still had 75 cents in his account and the school district said it had discontinued the policy, but the school in question still used it. School officials said they were reviewing the district’s policy with cafeteria workers.
New Mexico’s law mandates that students will be provided a meal no matter if his or her account has the funds to cover the price, unless a parent opts out and that the schools will not throw away a meal after giving it to a student if the student cannot pay for it.
Students will not be marked for having low funds and the schools must reach out to parents to find out why there is not enough money to pay for a child’s lunch after five or more meals go unpaid.