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California Ends ‘School Lunch Shaming’ for Students Who Owe Fees With New Law

Plus, welcome to the era of the celebrity virtual restaurant, and more news to start your day

A student holding a tray of food in a school cafeteria.
School lunch debt has become an increasingly contentious problem in the U.S.
Photo: Africa Studio/Shutterstock

California outlaws school lunch shaming

School lunch shaming is now banned in California, after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law a bill that guarantees all students will receive meals of their choice even if their parents or guardians owe unpaid meal fees. Per the legislation, students with outstanding balances will not be “shamed, treated differently, or served a meal that differs” from what other students are being served.

Newsom’s support for the bill was partly inspired by the actions of a 9-year-old student, who used his entire allowance to pay off the $74.80 lunch debt accrued by his fellow third graders at his Napa County elementary school, the governor said in a statement. “He showed how at many schools across the country, students whose parents are not able to pay for their lunch are given a cheaper, ‘alternative’ lunch that causes them to stick out from their peers,” said Newsom.

Stories of school lunch debt, which is prevalent across U.S. schools, have drawn plenty of public attention in recent months. A Pennsylvania school district made headlines when it sent letters to parents with outstanding balances telling them to pay or else their kids could end up in foster care. In another case, Chobani founder Hamdi Ulukaya donated nearly $50,000 to pay off the lunch debt of a Rhode Island school district that planned to deny hot food to students who owed meal fees.

And in other news…

  • Uber Eats and Rachael Ray are teaming up to create a virtual restaurant — one that exists purely for delivery, with no physical store — in 13 cities across the U.S. and Canada. [Bloomberg]
  • Grocery delivery service FreshDirect is reportedly looking for a buyer. [NY Post]
  • Restaurateur Bruce LeFavour, who played a role in the early California cuisine movement, has died. [NYT]
  • A judge has ordered a New York restaurant to pay $64,000 for repeatedly turning away customers accompanied by registered service dogs, who make for very polite dinner guests, imo. [Vice]
  • Barney Greengrass, a 111-year-old Jewish deli/restaurant/institution in New York, has been shut down by the health department, which cites mouse droppings and roaches among the restaurant’s violations. [NYT]
  • This record-setting 5.6-pound avocado made enough guac for 20 people. [CNN]
  • If you’re wondering what today’s Google Doodle is supposed to be, the answer is a phenakistiscope (spinning disc) of pancakes flipping. [The Verge]
  • Try reading this AITA about a guy who won’t “let” his sick wife make herself her favorite comfort food (it gets worse!) without your blood pressure rising. [r/AmITheAsshole]
  • Fashion, but make it pasta:

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