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New Legislation Ends School Lunch-Shaming For Kids With Unpaid Debt In California

Emily McWilliams 16 Oct 2019

When one boy realized that children across the country were struggling to pay for their lunches, he knew he had to do something.

Ryan Kyote began campaigning to local and state politicians to ensure that no student would go hungry again. Today his hard work paid off in the form of new legislation.

School lunch-shaming has become a real problem in schools across America.

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There have been multiple reports of students being humiliated or having their meals taken away because their family has an unpaid debt for school lunches.

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Thanks to one generous 10-year-old, students in California will no longer have to worry about being shamed for their lunch anymore.

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Ryan Kyote made headlines when he used his allowance to help a struggling classmate pay for their lunch.

Since his story went viral, Ryan's been advocating to make school lunches affordable for all students.

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In Ryan's school district, students with lunch debt aren't denied a lunch.

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However, the debt can accumulate until the end of the school year and become a financial burden on the family.

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He even met with California Governor Gavin Newsom to bring awareness to this issue earlier this year.

Specifically, Ryan wanted the state to end the practice of giving out "alternative lunches" to children with unpaid debts.

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According to Ryan, these alternative meals singled out students and caused them a lot of embarrassment.

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These students were subjected to bullying from their peers because of the stigma associated with alternative meals and unpaid debt.

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Now California has passed new legislation that will end this policy.

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The new legislation guarantees, "...all students receive a state reimbursable meal of their choice, even if their parent or guardian has unpaid meal fees."

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The governor credited Ryan with helping to make this happen.

"I want to thank Ryan for his empathy and his courage in bringing awareness to this important issue,” said Governor Newsom in a press release.

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Online, people are inspired by Ryan's story and want lunch debt to become a thing of the past.

People are rallying around this issue and hoping more follow Ryan's lead to end the practice.

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Since this legislation is only in California, others are hoping that the rest of the states will soon follow their lead.

Many believe that this legislation is a step in the right direction.

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