Broadly speaking, “lunch shaming” refers to the overt identification and stigmatization of any student who does not have money to buy a school meal. While the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) narrowly applies this overt identification to students who are eligible for free or reduced lunch, in practice legal lunch shaming occurs against students whose family income exceeds free or reduced lunch eligibility thresholds. The purpose of lunch shaming is to embarrass a student and parent(s) so that a school lunch debt is paid quickly, in turn reducing a school’s financial burden.
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