Minnesota is finally putting an end to the practice of shaming kids over school lunch debt
via Nevada Department of Agriculture

Common sense suggests we should be helping people who are struggling financially, not shaming them. And that goes double for children, who are never responsible for their parents' financial situations. However, in schools across the country, children are often stigmatized for their parents' inability to pay for their lunches.

In New Jersey, students with lunch debt aren't allowed to attend prom. In Pennsylvania, parents are threatened with being turned in to child protective services if they have outstanding lunch debt. In Rhode Island, students who have significant lunch debt are given jelly sandwiches instead of a hot lunch.

In other districts, children are given stamps on their hands that say, "I need lunch money." In some school cafeterias, children's lunches are thrown away in front of the entire cafeteria if they have lunch debt.


"When [lunch shaming] happens, it's short-sighted," Crystal FitzSimons, the director of school programs at the Food Research and Action Center, said in an interview with Popular Science. "Cafeterias should be positive experiences for all kids."

via Nevada Department of Agriculture

While in some states children are shamed, others are working to create a level playing field where children aren't called out for having lunch debt. Two years ago, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a law that guarantees students will receive state-funded lunches regardless of whether their parents or guardians have unpaid meal fees.

In some districts, all students are given the same cards to pay for their lunches so those who have debt or are on free lunch programs aren't identifiable to other kids.

When children are stigmatized in the cafeteria it can affect their mental health, stress levels, and school work. "When we remove that stigma, it makes a big difference in kids' lives," Juliana Cohen, an adjunct assistant professor of nutrition studying school food programs at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told Popular Science.

The state of Minnesota is working to be on the right side of the lunch debt issue. State leaders are putting a halt to lunch shaming by issuing new rules for administrators to address school lunch debt.

The state recently passed a new education finance bill that says its schools are no longer allowed to withhold any meals, affix any pins or stickers to students, or throw away a child's lunch.

"These are moments a child will never forget," state Sen. Karin Housley, R-Stillwater, said in comments published by the Senate Republican Caucus. "Now that we have passed this critical language, it is my hope that no student will ever have to experience this traumatic shaming ever again."

The state's education Commissioner Heather Mueller agrees.

"We know that hunger can negatively impact a student's ability to learn, and quite simply, no child deserves to be hungry — especially in our schools," she said during a briefing on the bill. "Our lunchrooms are an extension of the classroom and set students up for academic success."

One of the biggest roadblocks a school can put in front of its students is making learning a traumatizing experience. States such as Minnesota that put their students' well-being first are a great example of how schools can align their educational priorities for student success.

True

It takes a special type of person to become a nurse. The job requires a combination of energy, empathy, clear mind, oftentimes a strong stomach, and a cheerful attitude. And while people typically think of nursing in a clinical setting, some nurses are driven to work with the people that feel forgotten by society.

Keep Reading Show less
via Pexels

The Emperor of the Seas.

Imagine retiring early and spending the rest of your life on a cruise ship visiting exotic locations, meeting interesting people and eating delectable food. It sounds fantastic, but surely it’s a billionaire’s fantasy, right?

Not according to Angelyn Burk, 53, and her husband Richard. They’re living their best life hopping from ship to ship for around $44 a night each. The Burks have called cruise ships their home since May 2021 and have no plans to go back to their lives as landlubbers. Angelyn took her first cruise in 1992 and it changed her goals in life forever.

“Our original plan was to stay in different countries for a month at a time and eventually retire to cruise ships as we got older,” Angelyn told 7 News. But a few years back, Angelyn crunched the numbers and realized they could start much sooner than expected.

Keep Reading Show less

Courtesy of Elaine Ahn

True

The energy in a hospital can sometimes feel overwhelming, whether you’re experiencing it as a patient, visitor or employee. However, there are a few one-of-a-kind individuals like Elaine Ahn, an operating room registered nurse in Diamond Bar, California, who thrive under this type of constant pressure.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Vasily Koloda on Unsplash

College graduates at Wiley College had more reasons than most to celebrate.

Imagine being at your college graduation, knowing you’ll soon be entering the “real” world under the massive weight of student loans—like 65% of all graduating students—when suddenly you hear the words:

“You are debt free.”

Sounds like a fantasy, right? For the graduating class of Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, the miracle was all too real.

During the college's commencement ceremony, Wiley’s president and CEO Dr. Herman J. Felton Jr. announced that thanks to an anonymous donor, the debt owed by the entire class had been fully paid off. That’s more than 100 students, with a debt total of around $300,000.
Keep Reading Show less

Dr. Alicia Jeffrey-Thomas teaches you how to pee.

A pelvic floor doctor from Boston, Massachusetts, has caused a stir by explaining that something we all thought was good for our health can cause real problems. In a video that has more than 5.8 million views on TikTok, Dr. Alicia Jeffrey-Thomas says we shouldn’t go pee “just in case.”

How could this be? The moment we all learned to control our bladders we were also taught to pee before going on a car trip, sitting down to watch a movie or playing sports.

The doctor posted the video as a response to TikTok user Sidneyraz, who made a video urging people to go to the bathroom whenever they get the chance. Sidneyraz is known for posting videos about things he didn’t learn until his 30s. "If you think to yourself, 'I don't have to go,' go." SidneyRaz says in the video. It sounds like common sense but evidently, he was totally wrong, just like the rest of humanity.

Keep Reading Show less