Enough is Enough: Stop Food Shaming Families in Massachusetts

By Zack Mazrimas

Today I’m going to Beacon Hill to testify in Support of An Act to Promote School Nutrition (House 585/Senate 256)  and/or An Act to Expand Access to School Meals (House 584/Senate 257).

As a single father of two boys who attend a district school just outside of Boston, I naturally have many concerns surrounding their education and that they receive the necessary tools to succeed. 

I expect that they will be taught, cared for, and treated with respect each day. They are fortunate enough to have the option of eating the lunch that I’ve prepared or getting school lunch. I never worry that they will go without.

But we know that other parents are not so fortunate. They have everyday struggles that prevent them from affording school lunch, and are then are subjected to policies designed to humiliate and punish.

Recently it’s been revealed that the school districts in Woburn, Revere, Saugus, Hingham, and Norwood currently have an austere and punitive lunch debt policy that threatens to restrict students from graduation, delay the issuance of report cards, block participation in senior activities, halt the receipt of diplomas, banning from extra-curricular school services and/or punishing their families by referring them to collection agencies, the Department of Children and Families, filing lawsuits in small claims court or contacting the District Attorney in these County. 

Can you imagine? 

Charges with the District Attorney? 

Weaponizing DCF against parents? 

All because they can’t afford to pay for lunch?

This policy is not only ridiculous, but outrageous. That’s why we’re demanding that these school districts immediately cease the enforcement and suspend any further implementation of these policies immediately. 

We are also asking for your support in calling on Woburn, Revere, Saugus, Hingham, and Norwood School District to stop the enforcement of this policy immediately.

Children should not be punished for the actions of adults, and parents and families struggling in difficult circumstances should not have the stress and trauma of their economic struggle compounded by the implementation of this draconian policy.

Students should feel safe at school and be focused on learning — not worried about whether the lunch they ate in the cafeteria may keep them from graduation.

What do you think?

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