State Laws Regulating Unpaid School Meal Debt

Healthy and nutritious meals are critical to a child’s wellbeing and academic success. However not all families can afford adequate meals, and as a result, some families accrue unpaid bills for meals provided at school. These unpaid bills may go to collections, students may be denied certain academic or extracurricular privileges, or they may be denied meals entirely. State legislatures have begun to pass laws regulating school meal policies. These laws vary from state to state but generally address what actions a school is prohibited from taking against students who cannot pay, how the school can address unpaid charges, and creates processes to address violations of the meal charge policy by schools. 

This dataset explores statutes and regulations school meal policies in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia as of April 1, 2021. 

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