New York schools prohibited from suing parents for unpaid meal fees

New York

FILE – In this Monday, Oct. 29, 2018, file photo, kids eat lunch at an elementary school in Paducah, Ky. The Biden administration is expanding a program to feed as many as 34 million school children during the summer months. They’re using funds from the coronavirus relief package approved in March 2021. (Ellen O’Nan/The Paducah Sun via AP, File)

NEW YORK (WWTI) — Schools in New York State are now prohibited from filing lawsuits against parents or guardians for unpaid meal fees.

A bill signed by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Thursday is part of the state’s “No Student Goes Hungry” program, aiming to help protect students and families from legal tactics.

“Taking families to court over unpaid school meals is cruel, draconian, and runs counter to a school’s fundamental mission to ensure the wellbeing of every student,” Cuomo said in a press release.

The legislation follows actions taken in 2018 to end “meal shaming” in New York State public schools. Since 2018, there have been cases across the country of school districts threatening to file lawsuits or take families to court to collect fees.

Cuomo’s office stated that the new legislation will work in concert with federal rules ensuring that students in the United States receive “vital” meals.

The United States Department of Agriculture has announced that school meals provided through the National School Lunch Program will be provided free of charge to all students through June 2022.

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