Working to transform the child welfare system.


HB 1685: Concerning free or reduced-price meals for students

This bill amends how districts find and respond to families who may qualify for subsidized school lunches, as well as mandates the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to report to the legislature on how much money districts lose on unpaid lunches.

RCW 28A.235.260 is amended to include if a student’s school meal account has had a negative balance for 10 days, the school shall:

§  Take actions to determine whether the student is eligible for free meals; and

§  Shall make no fewer than 2 attempts to contact the student’s parent/guardian for the purpose of having him/her submit an application.

Furthermore, RCW 28A.235.270 is amended to include that except as provided otherwise in subsections (4) and (5), no school district personnel or volunteer may take any action that would publicly identify a student who does not have sufficient funds for a school meal. Moreover, serving a student a federally reimbursable alternative meal that is available to all students and in a manner that does not publicly identify the student as being without sufficient funds to pay for a meal does not constitute a violation of this subsection.

However, this subsection also specifies that nothing in this section prohibits a school district from denying a student access to:

§  A second meal in a one meal period;

§  A la carte food items; or

§  A meal or an a la carte food item if the debt limit established by the parent/guardian for a student’s meal account has been reached.

Additionally, a new section is added to RCW chapter 28A.300 to include OSPI shall collect and summarize data from school districts on unpaid meal and food debts of students incurred in school years 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19, and this report must be submitted by September 1st, 2019.