The Legislature is considering bills to ban food shaming in public schools (LD 1684) and restore funding to school-based health centers (LD 1710). UPDATE 3/22: The House passed LD 1710 and LD 1684 and the Senate votes next. Call your senators and tell her/him to pass LD 1710 and LD 1684!
The Legislature is voting on two bipartisan bills that could improve the lives of children in Maine’s K-12 public schools.
LUNCH SHAMING: LD 1684, introduced by Sen. Joyce Maker (R-District 6), bans “lunch shaming,” the practice of publicly shaming children with unpaid food bills. A 2014 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that nearly half of all U.S. school districts deny meals, withhold grades, or provide cheaper lunches than other students receive if meal accounts are not paid in full. Lunch shaming occurs in some Maine schools, although the extent of the problem is unknown. LD 1684 prohibits schools from publicly identifying students who have unpaid accounts and requires them to communicate only with parents or guardians about unpaid bills. Rep. Chellie Pingree has also co-sponsored a federal measure that would ban lunch shaming. A public hearing was held before the Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs January 17, with all testimony in support of the bill. The committee voted 8-3 that the bill Ought to Pass. It now goes to the House for a vote.
UPDATE: The House passed the bill March 28 by 83-64 and It now goes to the Senate.
SCHOOL-BASED HEALTH CENTERS: LD 1710, introduced by Rep. Jim R. Handy (D-District 58), restores funding for 15 school based health centers (SBHCs) that fell victim to last year’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) budget cuts. SBHCs provide basic on-site health care to thousands of Maine students who might not otherwise receive these services, including physicals, immunizations, support for chronic illnesses, dental care, counseling, and prescription refills. After DHHS slashed $600,000 from these health centers last year, many school districts were forced to eliminate the services or raise taxes to continue them. LD1710 would restore funding to 15 of those centers. A public hearing was held January 18, with all testimony in support of the bill. The House has passed the bill and now it goes to the Senate.
UPDATE: The House voted to pass the bill and it now goes to the Senate.
- LD 1710: The Senate will vote next. Call your senator at 1-800-423-6900 and tell her/him to pass LD 1710!
- LD 1684: The Senate votes next. Call your senator at 1-800-423-6900 and tell her/him to pass LD 1684. Then, send both legislators an email via a form from the MEA asking them to support the bill on its second voting. This is especially critical if your representative voted against the bill (See the roll call). Gov. LePage is expected to veto this bill so overwhelming support is critical.
- Find your legislators’ contact information.