Statehouse News

Rible Introduces Bill to Prevent Lunch Shaming in N.J. Schools

Lunch shaming in New Jersey schools would be prohibited under legislation sponsored by Assembly Conference Leader David P. Rible. Credits: U.S. Department of Agriculture

TRENTON, NJ — What can a school do when a student’s lunch account is not paid? Lunch shaming — a practice that involves “stigmatizing,” or publicly singling out this student — is one action that should never be taken, according to state Assembly Conference Leader David P. Rible.

The state legislator, whose 30th District includes Belmar and Lake Como, is sponsoring legislation that would prohibit schools from lunch shaming students whose school lunch accounts are overdue.

The bill amends an existing New Jersey statute to prohibit stigmatization or discrimination of a student whose account is in debt, while permitting the school to alert the parent or guardian in a written letter.

Sign Up for E-News

“The practice of ‘lunch shaming’ was brought to my attention by an Ocean County parent who was appalled by these practices, and I wanted to ensure that students in New Jersey wouldn’t be subject to the same treatment,” Rible said.

Lunch shaming occurs when a student’s lunch account is in debt or he/she does have money to pay for lunch, and the student is forced to throw out the lunch or is given a cold alternative, like a cheese sandwich and fruit. Other forms of the practice include requiring the student to wear a stamp, sticker or wristband, or to perform chores to pay the bill.

“Children should never be made to feel embarrassed or ashamed of their family’s financial situation,” Rible said. “I am hopeful that, with this legislation, we will no longer have students who are stigmatized through no fault of their own.”

At Belmar Elementary School, Principal Lisa Gleason said that the school works closely with Simplified Culinary Services, its food service provider, to ensure that students whose accounts are delinquent are “treated equitably and with sensitivity” when it comes to receiving a nutritious lunch.

“Parents are contacted to make them aware of the status of their child’s account,” she said. “However, students continue to receive lunch on a daily basis and are not held responsible for the status of their lunch accounts.”

In April, New Mexico became the first state to specifically ban lunch shaming with the passage of the Hunger-Free Students’ Bill of Rights, whose goal is to settle up with the parents and let the students eat shame-free.

In recent years, an increasing number of lunch shaming incidents has emerged across the country, prompting the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which oversees school lunch programs, to explore the problem. It currently is working to update federal requirements and policies to assist state and local school officials with crafting their own lunch-debt regulations.


TAPinto Belmar/Lake Como is Belmar and Lake Como’s only free daily newspaper. Sign up to get all the news as it happens at and follow us on Facebook at and on Twitter at @TAPintoBelmar.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Belmar/Lake Como

St. Patrick’s Day Sobriety Check in Belmar/Neptune Area on Tap by State Police

March 16, 2018

BELMAR, NJ — Giving no details on location and time, New Jersey State Police plans to conduct a sobriety checkpoint on Saturday, March 17 in the area of Belmar and Neptune Township,

The state police made the announcement on its Facebook page, alerting motorists that state troopers will be pulling over vehicles at this undisclosed location and time  “looking for signs of ...

Health Alert: Child with Measles Traveled to Newark Airport on March 12

March 15, 2018

TRENTON, NJ — If you were at Newark Liberty International Airport on Monday, March 12 between 12:45 and 9 p.m., you may have been exposed to measles and should contact your health care provider.

The N.J. Department of Health has issued a public health alert after a child with a confirmed case of measles — a highly contagious disease — arrived in Terminal B at Newark Liberty ...

Building Meadow's Garden & Playground: A Father's Vision to Honor His Daughter

March 11, 2018

PARKLAND, FL — For Andrew Pollack, the loss of his daughter Meadow Pollack in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas tragedy has spurred him to focus his energies on improving school safety and build a playground to honor his daughter.

"I had a vision of, instead of going to the cemetery, I wanted to do something that Meadow would have liked to go to, Pollack said. "I had a vision of ...

Electronics: The Negative Impact on Literacy

March 6, 2018

To the Editor:

As speech-language pathologists across New Jersey prepare to mark National March into Literacy Month,  let’s address the alarming number of young children who spend countless hours a day on a handheld screen.

According to a study from the Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting, the more time that children under age 2 spend on smartphones, tablets and electronic ...