FREEHOLD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Some New Jersey students want to put an end to shaming classmates because they don’t have enough money for school lunch.
The determined students are part of an organization called Rays of Hope and they’ve even asked Gov. Murphy to get involved.
“In middle school, we don’t have jobs, there’s nothing that we can really do to help provide for that bill,” students told CBS2’s Charlie Cooper.
They’re a group of students hungry to protect their underprivileged peers.
“Children no matter what income their parents have should be able to have free lunch,” Jayla George said.
“They say you can’t buy lunch today because you don’t have any money in your account or they say out loud that your account is low on balance,” Zachary Diaz added.
These kids, part of the Rays of Hope youth organization, are fighting against lunch shaming where kids are given alternate cold lunches or get called out publicly for having insufficient funds in their school lunch accounts.
“This is where we’re learning, we can’t go without eating,” student Alina de Zoyas said.
“It’s just a tactic to embarrass the kid until their parent pays their lunch bill,” Diaz said.
Many New Jersey school districts have a policy that allows administrators to call social services and check on kids whose parents owe money. These students created a petition and wrote letters to Gov. Murphy to put an end to lunch shaming.
Rays of Hope created their petition only five days ago and already nearly 1,300 people have signed it.
“Our school is a government run system and so are the jails that the government runs as well and they provide three meals a day and yet we don’t have a free meal. Not one free meal,” Alina de Zoyas said.
The students say the governor’s office confirmed that it received the letters, but still hasn’t agreed to a meeting with them.