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Proposal Would Bar Calif. Schools From Withholding Lunch When Fees Are Unpaid

  

Students who aren’t current on school lunch fees shouldn’t be denied food in California. That’s under a proposal by Democratic state Sen. Bob Hertzberg, which would also bar schools from shaming students over fees their parents owe.

It’s tough to know how often school kids don’t get lunch after falling behind on payments. But Jennifer Hayes, a mother of three who teaches elementary school in Oakland, says it does happen. She says she’s sometimes forgotten to add money to her older son’s online cafeteria account.

Hayes says she’d deposit around $20 a week in an online account for her older son, now off to college. But she didn’t always know when his funds were running low, so sometimes he’d miss lunch.

“I felt bad because I knew how important it is," Hayes says. "Especially to a teenage boy.”

Hayes says one of her current students sometimes skips lunch, and it undermines his studies.

“He loses his attention span — I mean he doesn’t have the attention he needs to get through the rest of the day," Hayes says. "He’s actually bright, but it’s just difficult for him.”

Hertzberg’s office says it’s hard to know how big the problem is in California using only anecdotal evidence, but the proposal isn’t expected to hurt schools financially.

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