A TN School District Offers Free Meals for All

Unicoi County to offer pilot program in 2024

One Tennessee school district is taking advantage of a federal reimbursement program to offer free breakfast and lunch to all students starting in January.

Unicoi County Schools will use the Community Eligibility Provision of the USDA’s school meal program to offer meals at no cost to all students with no application required.

The move comes in a state were policymakers have considered and rejected the idea of providing free school meals to all students on multiple occasions.

It also comes in a state that has a massive budget surplus and can afford to invest more in schools – including ensuring all children at school are fed. Instead, it seems Gov. Lee and his allies will spend surplus dollars on creating a new voucher scheme.

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

Lunchroom Bullies

For the second year in a row, a committee in the Tennessee General Assembly has essentially endorsed lunch-shaming.

Here’s more on yesterday’s shocking vote:

Republicans voted 4-2 to defeat The Tennessee Hunger-Free Students Act—a bill with three measures to ensure students can eat school lunches and not be punished when parents fail to pay meal fees or a meal debt.

The bill sponsor Rep. John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville, District 55, said the bill would stop school employees from throwing away a served meal if the student could not pay and would also prohibit schools from punishing or shaming students who accumulated a meal debt.

“We certainly do not want to have a child stigmatized or punished in any way for simply incurring a lunch debt at no fault of their own,” Clemmons said. “We have had incidents in recent years in Tennessee where students have been treated adversely or stigmatized in some manner. Whether it’s placed or made to eat in the principal’s office and eat a peanut butter sandwich by themselves simply because they had a lunch debt or being prevented from going on field trips because of a lunch debt.

Last year, an education subcommittee also rejected a bill sponsored by Clemmons that would have prevented lunch shaming. Every legislator who has opposed this bill in the last two sessions has been a Republican.

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

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