California bans ‘lunch shaming’ and pushes back school start times

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

California will push back school start times and ban the practice of “lunch shaming” after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law a pair of bills intended to improve students’ health. 

SB 328, authored by Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-La Canada Flintridge), will require middle schools to start no earlier than 8 a.m. and high schools to start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. The school start time rules will take effect on July 1, 2022.

The school start time law is intended to address insufficient student sleep, which proponents of the legislation say is a public health issue. Later school start times result in more on-time attendance and higher grades and graduation rates, Portantino has argued. 

SB 265, authored by Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys), prohibits schools from denying food to or shaming children whose parents or guardians have unpaid school meal fees. Additionally, the legislation bans schools from serving meals to students who have lunch debt that are different than the ones served to students whose meal fees are paid.

“Kids shouldn’t be treated differently at school because of their parents’ income,” Newsom stated in a tweet. “When parents can’t afford to buy the typical school lunch, kids are sometimes denied food or given a different, cheaper alternative. We’ve put an end to that practice. No more lunch shaming in CA.”

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