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Giddings pushes to eliminate ‘lunch shaming’

DENISHA McKNIGHT | 6/27/2017, 11:11 a.m.
With one in four children in North Texas living in a food insecure household, the need to alleviate child hunger ...
Rep. Helen Giddings host a press conference at the North Texas Food Bank to introduce her initiative to help children with insufficient funds to pay for school lunch, July 15. Screenshot

The Dallas Examiner

With one in four children in North Texas living in a food insecure household, the need to alleviate child hunger in the state is crucial.

“We are here because we believe that hungry children being denied lunch is uncomfortable,” said Texas Rep. Helen Giddings during a press conference at the North Texas Food Bank. “We came together as one voice to say, ‘We are better than lunch shaming our children.’”

On July 15, Giddings announced that she, along with several other sponsors and allies, raised over $216,000 in donations to end lunch shaming – the act of publicly confiscating a child’s lunch tray due to insufficient lunch funds – in Texas schools.

After the revival of her “lunch shaming” bill, which was previously stalled, the Texas lawmaker partnered with Feeding Texas, a statewide network of food banks, to launch a donation page aimed towards financing the lunch accounts of children from low-income families.

“I was devastated that day, but today I am inspired with a renewed confidence that it is still alive and well,” Giddings said as she discussed how she felt after her bill initially was shut down.

The cause received donations from several individuals and organizations, including $50,000 from HEB/Central Market, $50,000 from Walmart, $12,500 from Centurion American and $10,000 each from AT&T, Entergy Texas, Huckabee Architects and Uber. All proceeds will go towards providing more than 66,000 lunches to needy students.

The lunch bill could be very impactful in the community, especially in the Southern Dallas area, where most of the food deserts are located. Currently, there are 473,680 local residents, which is equivalent to 19.3 percent, that are food insecure – a direct reflection of the amount of children whom live in these households.

On the same day as the conference, Gov. Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 1566, which will require Texas school boards to set a grace period for parents to resolve insufficient balances on lunch accounts.

Giddings continues her efforts to help feed students throughout the area for what may be “their only hot meal for the day.”

“The epidemic of hunger and malnutrition particularly among children is not new, but it is critical that we do everything in our power to stop it,” she expressed.