For too long, lunch-shaming has been used as a needlessly cruel method for singling out students who are unable to pay for their lunch but, thankfully, one state is putting an end to it once in for all. Last week, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation that ensures that students will get a “state reimbursable meal of their choice” even if their parent or guardian has accrued fees for unpaid meals.
None of this would be happening without Ryan Kyote, a 10-year-old at West Park Elementary School in Napa, who made headlines during the summer when he donated $74.80 he had saved up from allowance money to help pay off student lunch debt for his classmates.
Kyote sparked a state-wide conversation about school lunch debt, resulting in Newsom meeting with Kyote and telling him that he would sign the bill, which was authored by state Senator Robert Hertzberg, if it made it to his desk. After signing the bill this Saturday, Newsom released a statement where he personally thanked Kyote for bringing attention to this problem.
“I want to thank Ryan for his empathy and his courage in bringing awareness to this important issue,” Newsom said.
While this is a wonderful development for California, sadly, many other states continue to utilize lunch-shaming, including a nine-year-old in Ohio who had his lunch taken away from him on his birthday due to a $9 lunch debt. Hopefully, every state will make this outdated practice a thing of the past, so that students can just enjoy their lunch in peace.