Local senator's bill to end "lunch shaming" becomes law

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WIFR) – A new law introduced by an area lawmaker aims to ensure all Illinois students receive lunch.

State Sen. Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford) sponsored the bill to stop the practice of schools targeting students with a special wristband or handstamp when they can't afford lunch, or denying it altogether.

Senate Bill 2428 requires every school to provide a meal to a student who requests one.

The measure allows the school to contact the parents directly to request they pay for the child’s lunch and to request the comptroller withhold tax refunds to parents to pay off the debt if it exceeds $500.

Either way, the bill prevents the school from just tossing lunches out.

“This is a cruel practice that blames kids for mistakes made by their parents,” Stadelman said. “It’s our responsibility to ensure that all students, no matter their background or parents’ income level, have an opportunity to eat.”

The proposal will go into effect immediately.