Let’s face it. Food may be vital to us and (especially) our kids, but realistically — and don’t be ashamed to admit this — we don’t always have time to cook or meal prep for our family. Good nutrition is important for learning and students’ success, so many of us resort to putting our children under school meal programs at the cafeteria. This practice is supposed to make parents feel at ease that their children are nourished despite being away from us. But when we miss the payment deadline, apparently, some schools “brand” kids whose parents owe the canteen money — this is called “lunch shaming.”

Before you panic that your kid will be ostracized or bullied because of you being too busy or not having enough funds to pay for their meals yet, know that the state made lunch shaming illegal in California recently.

How prevalent is lunch shaming?

There hasn’t been any widely-publicized research yet as to how many kids experienced lunch shaming in schools — but we know for a fact that not everyone is “privileged” enough to be fed a decent meal; this is the distressing reality that many people in the world go through (and since the recession, many more Americans now have to deal with food insecurity).

According to Feeding America, 1 in 7 Americans suffers from hunger every year. But this isn’t the most disturbing part — 1 in 5 children in the USA don’t have access to well-prepared food (where their minimum nutritional needs are met)! That’s around 16 million American kids.

Many of our underprivileged countrymen also sometimes have to choose between spending their money to go to the doctor or to have the means to commute to work (or elsewhere); many Americans simply don’t make enough money to have an adequate budget to live (at the very least) decently.

They made lunch shaming illegal in California, but how do I guarantee my kid won’t be lunch shamed?

Before it was made that lunch shaming be illegal in California — and other states, there’ve been reports where kids (whose parents were indebted from school cafeterias) had to wear the “badge of shame” in the form of wristbands, placards, or they had to do do “janitorial” activities in front of their classmates.

Now that it’s illegal to lunch shame children in California, you can be more at ease that your financial struggles won’t be “exposed” through the cafeteria humiliating your kid on school grounds. However, what we cannot guarantee is that 100% of CA’s schools won’t dare to do this (in the hopes that they’d get away).


No child deserves to be humiliated — especially in front of their peers where they’re more likely to bully or be bullied (because of their young age and lack of understanding or guidance). But to be shamed for not being able to afford one of the most basic needs that a human (especially a kid) can be enraging.

We all want to protect our kids from the horrors of the real world that they won’t be able to comprehend yet, but to have others use them as a vessel to humiliate the ones who are purportedly the ones to blame is heart-wrenching. Thankfully, just last October, the bill was signed that lunch shaming is now illegal in California. And as parents, there’s nothing wrong with wanting cheaper groceries to purchase so we can afford to cook for the family.

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