The Lunch Crisis organization has been able to raise over $10,000. Hundreds of families benefited and hundreds of children had their lunch debts erased with this money. To bring more permanent change to the public school lunch system, we have been working on co-authoring a bill that will change the lunch system in New Jersey. Assemblywoman DeCroce and Keertana Talla plan to present the bill to the New Jersey Assembly early next year. The bill will consist of acts to outlaw lunch shaming and ensure that federal meal assistance is an easier process. New Mexico’s Hunger-Free Students’ Bill of Rights outlaws lunch shaming and directs schools to work with parents to pay their debts or to sign up for federal meal assistance. The Lunch Crisis Organization has publicizing this organization to several different groups of different ages and who live in different neighborhoods, therefore reaching an unprecedented number of people to spread this message to. Additionally, to further the number of people we can positively impact, we are in the process of creating chapters of the Lunch Crisis Organization in several different schools. By bringing this organization to other schools, more students will learn about this issue and consequently the impact we can achieve will be greater.
In nearly half of America’s school districts, schools shame and punish their students because their parents or guardians are unable to pay for their student lunch bills. In some cases, schools are ordered to withhold lunch. In other, more severe cases, lunch shaming is used; schools publicly single out these children by forcing them to wear wristbands, assigning them chores, or taking away their meal after it has been served to them.
To begin tackling this pressing problem, I founded the Lunch Crisis Organization when I was 15 years old. The Lunch Crisis Organization operates on the basis of three main objectives: raising money towards erasing students’ lunch debt, raising awareness about lunch shaming, and bringing change to the public school lunch system. The lunch shaming/debt crisis is present in thousands of public schools, and in most of them, the fix is not easy. In order to make significant change, my first step is to reach out to the board members of each school to get a sense of how to implement this much-needed change in a way that works for both parties. No matter a person’s age, race, or gender, this organization is an opportunity for communities to rally behind their vulnerable members and to help children who face this struggle on a daily basis.
Although we have been fortunate enough to help hundreds of struggling families, the journey to reach the goals of this organization is still ongoing. Until a bill is passed to outlaw this unethical and cruel institutionalized practice, the Lunch Crisis Organization will continue to fundraise to help students in need while fighting to affect permanent change on a national level.