Press Release

AFT's Randi Weingarten on Warwick (RI) Public Schools Policy for Students with Lunch Debts

For Release: 

Saturday, May 11, 2019


Elena Temple

WASHINGTON—In response to a new Warwick (R.I.) Public Schools policy that provides cold sandwiches instead of hot lunches to children with school lunch debt, AFT President Randi Weingarten and Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals President Frank Flynn issued the following statements:

AFT President Weingarten said:

“Lunch shaming poor kids is cruel and a terrible response to a budget problem. Children can’t help it if their parents can’t afford their lunch bills, so we shouldn’t punish them for something they have no control over. And children can’t focus on learning if they are hungry or carrying shame.

“Our children look to adults to take care of their well-being—that’s our responsibility. So instead of taking things out on children and essentially marking them as different or ‘less than’ by giving them cold sandwiches, districts and the Legislature need invest in our schools so we can adequately fund our future and ensure all students get a nutritious meal at school.

"Given how bad the situation is, the AFT will volunteer, as others have, to cover these costs in Rhode Island.”

Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals President Flynn said:

"In the richest country in world and one of its richest states, we should be able to figure this out and find a way to constructively make sure that no child is denied access to a hot lunch. 

"Instead of compromising the social-emotional health of our students by shaming them, our goal should be to galvanize the political will of all adults in the educational community, including all of our elected officials, to do everything we can to meet the needs of our students and eliminate this disgraceful practice.

"H. 5100, legislation put forth by AFT member and state Rep. Marcia Ranglin-Vassell, is one such bill that does this, and we should do everything we can to support it."

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.