AUSTIN, Texas - A stand-alone bill to fill empty food trays failed to make it through this legislative session.
That defeat did not stop state Representative Helen Giddings, Tuesday she announced her last shot to end what’s called lunch room shaming has gained new life.
"It is inconceivable that in schools all over the state of Texas, children who go through the cafeteria lines and discover they have no money in their accounts have their hot lunches taken away and thrown in the trash," said the democrat from DeSoto.
Representative Giddings wanted to make school districts feed students even if there is no money in their cafeteria accounts - and even if they do not qualify for assistance programs. Her plan, in part, was added to legislation filed by Representative Diego Bernal (D) San Antonio. The mandatory compliance requirement was change to -voluntary- in order to address concerns the legislation could increase costs.
"Schools want to do the right thing, whether it’s give kids the food that’s left over from the cafeteria later in the day, or give them a hot meal when the lunch card runs out, they want to do this, but if it’s not in black and white, their lawyers will tell them they can’t and that’s why they throw so much away. So in black and white, assuming the governor signs this, in black and white they have the permission to do it," said Rep. Bernal.
The new plan -if it becomes law- is not expected to feed every student in need - that why a non-profit group, Feeding Texas, has launched a statewide effort to collect lunch money.
"We hope to identify those schools where lunch shaming or the potential for lunch shaming is a big problem," said Celia Cole with Feeding Texas.
The idea is to do what’s already being done on a smaller scale in some local school districts like Huto ISD. Earlier this month FOX 7 reported how individuals are raising money to replenish empty cafeteria accounts.
"The interest is there, the heighten awareness is there, and I'm really optimistic about what’s going to happen," said Rep. Giddings.
Feeding Texas plans to set up a website to show where the money that’s raise is being used.