Florida Senate - 2018 SB 1610 By Senator Farmer 34-00435-18 20181610__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to school meals; providing a short 3 title; creating s. 1002.24, F.S.; providing 4 definitions; requiring schools to provide certain 5 information in specified formats relating to free and 6 reduced-price meals; requiring schools to complete an 7 application for free or reduced-price meals on a 8 student’s behalf under certain circumstances; 9 providing an exemption to such requirements; requiring 10 a specific liaison to work with the Department of 11 Agriculture and Consumer Services to ensure certain 12 students receive meals; providing duties and 13 responsibilities of schools relating to the provision 14 of meals and contacting and assisting a student’s 15 parent; prohibiting a school from taking specified 16 actions relating to a student who cannot pay for a 17 meal or who owes a meal debt; prohibiting parents from 18 paying specified fees or costs relating to meal debts; 19 providing for rule making; providing an effective 20 date. 21 22 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 23 24 Section 1. This act may be cited as the “Hunger-Free 25 Students’ Bill of Rights Act.” 26 Section 2. Section 1002.24, Florida Statutes, is created to 27 read: 28 1002.24 Student access to school meals.— 29 (1) For purposes of this section the term: 30 (a) “Meal application” means an application for free or 31 reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch Program or 32 the School Breakfast Program. 33 (b) “School” means a public school or nonprofit private 34 school approved to participate in the National School Lunch 35 Program or the School Breakfast Program. 36 (2)(a) Each school must provide: 37 1. A free, printed meal application in every school 38 enrollment packet or, if the school chooses to use an electronic 39 meal application, an explanation of the electronic meal 40 application process and instructions for how a parent may 41 request a printed meal application at no cost. 42 2. A meal application and instructions in a language the 43 parent understands. If a parent cannot read or understand a meal 44 application, the school must offer assistance in completing the 45 application. 46 (b) If a school becomes aware that a student who has not 47 submitted a meal application is eligible for free or reduced 48 price meals, the school shall complete and file a meal 49 application for the student pursuant to 7 C.F.R., s. 245.6(d). 50 (c) Paragraphs (a) and (b) do not apply to a school that 51 provides free meals to all students for an entire school year 52 and does not collect meal applications. 53 (3) A school district’s liaison for homeless children and 54 youths, required under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance 55 Act, 42 U.S.C. s. 11432, shall coordinate with the Department of 56 Agriculture and Consumer Services to ensure that homeless 57 children and youths receive free and reduced-price meals. This 58 subsection does not apply to nonprofit private schools. 59 (4) Regardless of whether or not a student has money to pay 60 for a meal or owes money for earlier meals, a school shall: 61 (a) Provide a United States Department of Agriculture 62 reimbursable meal to a student who requests one, unless a parent 63 has specifically provided written permission for the school to 64 withhold a meal. 65 (b) If the student owes money for five or more meals: 66 1. Check the state list of students categorically eligible 67 for free meals to determine if the student is categorically 68 eligible. 69 2. Make at least two attempts, not including the meal 70 application or instructions included in the enrollment packet, 71 to reach the student’s parent and to request that the parent 72 complete a meal application. 73 3. Require the principal, an assistant principal, or a 74 counselor to contact the parent to offer assistance with the 75 meal application, determine if there are other issues within the 76 household that have caused the student to have insufficient 77 funds to purchase a school meal, and offer any other appropriate 78 assistance. 79 (c) Direct all communications regarding a student’s meal 80 debt to his or her parent. However, a school may send a letter 81 home with the student that is addressed to the parent. 82 (5) A school may not: 83 (a) Require a student to throw a meal away after it has 84 been served because of the student’s inability to pay for the 85 meal or because money is owed for earlier meals. 86 (b) Publicly identify or stigmatize a student who cannot 87 pay for a meal or who owes a meal debt, including, but not 88 limited to, requiring a student to wear a wristband or hand 89 stamp. 90 (c) Require a student who cannot pay for a meal or who owes 91 a meal debt to do chores or other work to pay for meals. This 92 does not include chores or work required of all students 93 regardless of a meal debt. 94 (d) Require a parent to pay fees or costs from a collection 95 agency hired to collect a meal debt. 96 (6) The State Board of Education may adopt rules to 97 administer this section. 98 Section 3. This act shall take effect July 1, 2018.