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New law by Stadelman protects students from lunch shaming

school lunchSPRINGFIELD – In many school districts, students who are unable to pay for lunch can be stigmatized with a special wristband or handstamp, and in some cases even denied lunch.

To stop this practice known as “lunch shaming” in Illinois, State Senator Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford) sponsored and passed Senate Bill 2428 through the Illinois General Assembly. Yesterday, the governor signed the proposal into law.  

“This is a cruel practice that blames kids for mistakes made by their parents,” Stadelman said. “It’s our responsibility to ensure that all students, no matter their background or parents’ income level, have an opportunity to eat.”

Under Stadelman’s proposal, every school will be required to provide a meal to a student that requests one. While the school can contact the parents directly to request they pay for the child’s lunch, they are prevented from throwing the meal out, forcing the student to wear a wristband or otherwise stigmatizing them. If the school district is owed at least $500 by a student’s parents and they have made a reasonable effort to collect the debt, the district can request the comptroller withhold tax refunds to parents to pay off the debt.

The proposal will go into effect immediately.

Sen. Steve Stadelman

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34th Legislative District

Years served: 2013 - Present

Committee assignments: Education; Transportation (Vice-Chairperson); Committee of the Whole; Higher Education; Appropriations I; Commerce and Economic Development.

Biography: Earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Worked as a news anchor/reporter for WTVO-Channel 17 for 25 years, In 2003, his coverage of the state's death penalty earned him an Associated Press award for Best Documentary.