In June, a 9-year-old named Ryan in Napa, California, learned about school lunch debt from a news story. In a classic instance of so-called “lunch shaming,” a 5-year-old had been denied lunch because of her outstanding lunch debts. Ryan took action.
When he asked, the school said the total outstanding lunch debts for the third grade amounted to $74.50. Ryan took the allowance money he had saved and when to the school to pay the debt.
California Governor Gavin Newsom was inspired by this story and signed a bill banning the practice of lunch shaming in California schools. Students who cannot afford lunch will no longer be denied lunch, offered an inferior lunch like peanut butter and jelly, or marked with stamps or stickers to remind parents to pay.
Newsom met with Ryan in August and called it an honor. Newsome said, “I want to thank Ryan for his empathy and his courage in bringing awareness to this important issue.”