One state has passed a law to stop schools from shaming kids without lunch money

One state has passed a law to stop schools from shaming kids without lunch money

In some schools, a child short on funds is stamped on the arm to notify everyone of their lack of lunch money. In others, children are forced to clean cafeteria tables in front of their peers to pay the debt. Other schools require cafeteria workers to take a child’s hot food and throw it in the trash if he doesn’t have the money to pay for it.In what its supporters say is the first such legislation in the country, New Mexico has outlawed shaming children whose parents are behind on school lunch payments.On Thursday, Gov. Susana Martinez signed the Hunger-Free Students’ Bill of Rights, which directs schools to work with parents to pay their debts or sign up for federal meal assistance and puts an end to practices meant to embarrass children. It applies to public, private and religious schools that receive federal subsidies for students’ breakfasts and lunches.The law’s passage is a victory for anti-hunger activists, who have long been critical of lunch-shaming practices that single out children with insufficient funds on their electronic swipe cards or who lack the necessary cash. These practices can include making the child wear a wrist band or requiring the child to perform chores in exchange for a meal.In some cases, cafeteria workers have been ordered to throw away the hot lunches of children who owed money, giving them alternatives like sandwiches, milk and fruit.“People on both sides of the aisle were genuinely horrified that schools were allowed to throw out children’s food or make them work to pay off debt,” said Jennifer Ramo, executive director of New Mexico Appleseed, an anti-poverty group that spearheaded the law. “It sounds like some scene from ‘Little Orphan Annie,’ but it happens every day.”State Sen. Michael Padilla, a Democrat and the majority whip, said he introduced the bill because he grew up in foster homes and experienced shaming tactics as a child.“I made Mrs. Ortiz and Mrs. Jackson, our school lunch ladies, my best friends,” he said. “Thank goodness they took care of me, but I had to do other things like mop the floor in the cafeteria. It was really noticeable that I was one of the poor kids in the school.”New Mexico is not alone in dealing with school meal debt. According to the School Nutrition Association, more than three-quarters of school districts had uncollected debt on their books at the end of the last school year. In a survey by the association, districts reported median lunch debt of a few thousand dollars — but some were far higher, as much as $4.7 million.Once debt is deemed uncollectable, school nutrition departments must write it off, but they may not offset the loss with federal dollars. Instead, they must dip into other forms of revenue, such as profits from the sale of full-priced snacks and meals, or they must seek reimbursement elsewhere, usually from the district’s general fund.Most districts try to collect outstanding balances through automated calls, texts or emails, and they may also hire an outside collection agency. The New Mexico law will still allow schools to penalize students with steps such as withholding a student’s transcript or revoking older students’ parking passes.Lunch shaming can take a toll on the adults enlisted to carry it out as well as on children. A Pittsburgh-area cafeteria worker made national news when she quit her job rather than deny hot lunches to students.Some school employees reach into their own pockets to pay for meals. Sharon Schaefer, a former chef at a high school in Omaha, Nebraska, said one cashier asked to be removed from her position because of the school’s “no money, no meal” policy. “She had been secretly paying for students’ meals,” Schaefer said, “and couldn’t afford to keep it up.”Even those outside the cafeteria may be moved to help. Private individuals have sometimes paid off the entire outstanding balance at local schools, and in December, a single tweet inspired hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations around the country.“I don’t think the main intention of the school meal debt policies is to humiliate,” said Ramo of New Mexico Appleseed, who said the group worked closely with school nutrition departments in drafting the bill. “Mostly, school nutrition directors are trying to balance their budgets and they see this is a necessary but effective evil.”Nonetheless, she said, “We have to separate the child from a debt they have no power to pay.”In 2010, the Department of Agriculture was directed to examine the feasibility of establishing national standards for dealing with meal debt, but in its report to Congress last summer, the department concluded that the matter should remain under local control. Accordingly, it directed state agencies to establish a formal payment policy by July 1 or to allow districts to set their own policies by that date. Texas and California have also introduced anti-shaming legislation.In its official guidance, the Agriculture Department discourages the use of alternate meals and other stigmatizing practices. If an alternate meal is offered, the department suggests bringing it to the child’s classroom in a paper sack so it looks like a home-packed lunch, or offering the same cold meal on the lunch line so it’s available to all students.

South Dakota Man Gets $190 Fine for Snake Without Leash

South Dakota Man Gets $190 Fine for Snake Without Leash

South Dakota man gets $190 fine for snake without leash

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A man who was fined for allowing his pet snake to slither freely in a South Dakota park said an animal control officer suggested he use a leash to restrain the reptile.

Jerry Kimball said he initially thought the recommendation was a joke because it was April Fool’s Day when he was fined $190 and ticketed last week for “animals running at large,” told the Argus Leader ( ).

“He was literally asking me to put a rope around my snake,” Kimball said. “I was like, ‘Dude, no.’ I was dumbfounded.”

Kimball was approached by the officer after a woman complained that his Fire Bee Ball Python was roaming freely at Falls Park in Sioux Falls.

Animal Control Supervisor Julie DeJong said a city ordinance requires all pets to be leashed or restrained in public. She said pet snakes can be held or kept in a container to comply.

“If it’s in public and it’s not on a leash, it’s at large. The ordinance doesn’t really distinguish between animals,” she said.

DeJong added that snake lovers should be more sensitive to the aversion many people feel toward the animal. While non-venomous snakes are legal to own, not all park visitors will welcome a python in a park.

But Kimball said he considers it his mission to rid the public’s fear of snakes.

“That’s my purpose in life: To let people know that snakes aren’t killers,” he said. “What better way to give back than to help people understand these misunderstood creatures?”

Kimball said he plans to fight the ticket in court.

Kentucky Coal Mining Museum switches to solar power

Kentucky Coal Mining Museum switches to solar power

The Kentucky Coal Mining Museum is switching to a new form of energy — solar power. 

The museum in Benham began installing the solar panels on Tuesday, WYMT reported. Brandon Robinson, the museum’s communications director, said the goal is to save money in the long run. 

“We believe that this project will help save at least $8,000 to $10,000 off the energy costs on this building alone,” Robinson told WYMT. 


The museum is owned by Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College. Robinson said the savings would go back to the school and its students. 

Robinson admitted the switch from coal to solar energy is “a little ironic,” but said the two power sources work “hand-in-hand.”


“And, of course, coal is still king around here,” Robinson said. 

The project is being funded through an outside foundation and will cost thousands of dollars, according to Robinson.

Twenty solar panels, the average needed to power a house, would cost between $17,000 and $20,000 to install, though the costs would be recouped from savings within five to seven years, according to WYMT.

Old Bailey’s first non-white judge was mistaken for defendant

Old Bailey’s first non-white judge was mistaken for defendant

Image copyright

The Old Bailey’s first non-white circuit judge has said she was often mistaken for a witness or defendant when she started working as a lawyer.Anuja Ravindra Dhir began her career in the 1980s. She became a circuit judge at the Old Bailey in February.The 49-year-old said at first, most clients did not want to be represented by a young Asian Scottish female.She also said that, when she wanted to go to university in the 1970s, she was told to be a hairdresser instead.As well as being the first non-white circuit judge at the Old Bailey, Judge Dhir is the youngest.She said: “My daughter, it would never cross her mind being treated differently because she’s a female or because she’s not white, whereas in my generation we did.”We were surprised when people didn’t treat us differently. Not now, but when I came to the bar, I was not expecting to be treated like a white Oxbridge male at all.”‘Aim lower’At school in Dundee, Judge Dhir said she was steered towards a different career.”I wasn’t the cleverest person in my year at school,” she said.”I’m dyslexic so I find it difficult to read and write. And when I went to school in the 1970s in Scotland, women were not encouraged to aim high.”When I first said to a teacher at school I wanted to go to university when I was older, she told me that I should aim a little lower and suggested I try hairdressing instead.”Judge Dhir said when she was called to the bar in 1989, most barristers were male, white, from a public school, and with “some connection” to the profession. “Now that’s four differences already before we start,” she said.”Added to that, most clients did not want a young Asian Scottish female representing them so that made it harder for me to build a client base.”Mistaken identityJudge Dhir said she once had to produce her wig and gown before security allowed her into court.”I got used to turning up at courts and people saying to me ‘Witness? – no – Defendant? – no’ and looking rather surprised when I said I was the advocate,” she said.”I’m often asked if there is a glass ceiling. I think sometimes there are two ceilings – or no glass ceiling at all.”There is one glass ceiling that’s in our minds, that’s what we think we can achieve so perhaps we impose our glass ceiling and that has happened to me several times.”The Old Bailey houses 15 judges – 10 men and five women. Three out of six of the most recent intake of judges are women.

Anti-masturbation ‘bill’ will receive its first reading but has no hope of passing

Anti-masturbation ‘bill’ will receive its first reading but has no hope of passing

A US lawmaker who wants to highlight abortion issues has proposed new legislation that would see Texas men fined US$100 (NZ$144) if they masturbated without supervision

The House Bill 4260, otherwise known as the Man’s Right to Know Act, will receive its first reading in the state’s House of Representatives after being created by state representative Jessica Farrar.

The satirical bill to regulate “masturbatory emissions” was created to highlight the hoops women must jump through when they seek an abortion.

Read more:

* Abortion: A tragic response to lack of choice

* Hundreds of Kiwi women told their abortions were ‘not justified’

* Prime Minister Bill English won’t ‘liberalise’ abortion law

* Donald Trump, surrounded by men, signing anti-abortion executive order

“What I would like to see is this make people stop and think,” Farrar said when she first filed the bill in March.

“Maybe my colleagues aren’t capable of that, but the people who voted for them, or the people that didn’t vote at all, I hope that it changes their mind and helps them to decide what the priorities are.”

The tongue-in-cheek law, which Farrar admits has no hope of passing, would require men to wait 24 hours after an “initial health care consultation” to receive an elective vasectomy, colonoscopy or Viagra prescription.

The 24-hour waiting period mirrors a law passed in Texas in 2011, which forces women to have an ultrasound at least 24 hours before an abortion, according to Planned Parenthood.

Her bill would also require men seeking those procedures to receive a booklet of informational materials titled “A Man’s Right to Know.” It “must contain medical information related to the benefits and concerns of a man seeking a vasectomy, Viagra prescriptions or a colonoscopy.”

The “rules and procedures for the creation of and distribution” of the materials will “exactly follow the rules and procedures of the informational booklet entitled ‘A Woman’s Right to Know,’ ” the bill stated, referring to the booklet doctors are legally required to give women seeking an abortion, in accordance with a 2003 informed consent law.

That booklet has for years been derided by critics who claim it is “ideologically motivated and medically inaccurate,” Texas Public Radio reported in January.

In one section, for example, the booklet lists “Breast Cancer Risk” as a potential danger of abortion. The Washington Post’s Fact Checker blog gave this three Pinocchios.

“But research overwhelmingly shows that abortion is not associated with a woman’s risk of getting breast cancer,” the blog post said.

“Further, the citations in this booklet point to research from a disputed methodology to find such an association, or cite studies that explicitly say there is no association between abortion and protection against breast cancer.”

“Emissions outside of a woman’s vagina, or created outside of a health or medical facility, will be charged a US$100 civil penalty for each emission, and will be considered an act against an unborn child,” the four-page bill read.

Furthermore, emissions created in medical facilities “will be stored for the purposes of conception for a current or future wife.”

“A lot of people find the bill funny,” Farrar told the Houston Chronicle. “What’s not funny are the obstacles that Texas women face every day, that were placed there by legislatures making it very difficult for them to access health care.”

She fears the barriers to women’s health will only grow with the new administration, which is why she filed the bill this year.

“Especially with Trump as president, I think these folks are on fire now. They’re off the chain now,” Farrar said.

“If they can elect someone based on making racist remarks and derogatory remarks toward women and such, then we’ve just given them license to offend and license to be even worse than before.”

Since her initial election in 1994, Farrar has been particularly outspoken against laws affecting women’s health.

Recently, she argued against a bill by State Rep. Byron Cook, (Republican, Corsicana), that would require hospitals to bury or cremate fetal remains in case of a miscarriage or an abortion.

“Let me be clear: this bill has nothing to do with abortion procedures whatsoever. It has everything to do with ensuring the dignity of the deceased,” Cook said in defense of the bill. “We believe Texas can do better than this.”

“The fetal remains bill imposes state-sponsored moral beliefs on women, affecting their ability to make personal decisions with their doctor,” Farrar said via Twitter.

She also spoke out against a bill proposed by State Rep. Tony Tinderholt (Republican) that would charge both an abortion provider and the woman receiving the procedure with murder, the Texas Tribune reported.

Perhaps in retaliation, Tinderholt issued a fiery statement against Farrar’s bill to the newspaper, claiming she doesn’t understand her own body.

“I’m embarrassed for Rep. Farrar,” he said. “Her attempt to compare to the abortion issue shows a lack of a basic understanding of human biology. I would recommend that she consider taking a high school biology class from a local public or charter school before filing another bill on the matter.”

Others in Texas, though, seem to be fond of the bill. One Twitter user called it “legendary,” while another wrote that Farrar “expertly trolls” the Texas legislature.

Texas Tribune executive editor Ross Ramsey simply tweeted, “I’m pretty sure this is going to be a famous bill.”

Cheerleaders Accused of Prostitution in Horry County

Cheerleaders Accused of Prostitution in Horry County

Coastal Carolina University’s cheerleading team has been suspended indefinitely pending a conduct investigation, officials said.

Coastal officials refused to discuss the nature of the investigation or what specifically led the university to suspend the entire team.

Coastal Public Safety Director David Roper said he was not at liberty to comment on the situation and Coastal Vice President William M. Plate Jr. said there are currently no police reports pertaining to the conduct investigation.

The cheerleading section of the CCU Athletics website has been removed from the website, and now directs to the school’s main Spirit Team page.

The HTC Center confirmed that a cheerleading showcase scheduled for April 4 was removed from the center’s schedule for the week. The showcase was to be held ahead of the team’s scheduled appearance at a national competition in Florida. Competition officials said the team is still registered and paid in full, and they have not heard the team will not be coming.

An unnamed cheerleader who spoke to the Chronicle’s news partner WMBF told the television station that an investigator with the Coastal’s Department of Public Safety came to their practice on March 29. Team members were questioned by police and were allowed to leave after being told they did nothing wrong, according to the WMBF report.

Coastal cheerleaders declined to talk about the situation, but they issued a statement via Twitter:

“At this point in time, we no longer wish to be contacted about the current situation,” they wrote. “The false accusations have led to harassment on campus as well as through social media, and are beginning to negatively impact our daily lives as well as our studies. As a team we ask the community to support us through these tough times as we hope the situation will be cleared up shortly.”

Audra Scofield, the school’s former cheerleading coach who took a job at the University of Texas-San Antonio last year, expressed support for the cheerleaders on her Facebook page.

“It has been very difficult for me to not vocalize my personal opinions all over social media these past two days,” she wrote last week. “I spent three years of my life coaching this program and have some of my best memories with these young adults. I have a very heavy heart for this team and have felt almost every emotion possible. … I pray that these young women and men, students of Coastal Carolina receive the support they deserve from the community during this scandal.”

Scofield wrote that she was choosing her words carefully.

“Let’s be honest,” she wrote. “There is a reason this team has not had a paid coach on staff all year. Even without a certified cheer coach on staff they have still managed to cover ALL the athletic events, appearances, conference tournament, fundraising events and post season basketball tournament games. Not to mention they prepared themselves to attend nationals. Justice will be served ladies.”

Man Accidentally Shoots Himself at NRA Headquarters

Man Accidentally Shoots Himself at NRA Headquarters

A National Rifle Association employee accidentally shot himself while doing firearms training at the organization’s headquarters, according to police.The 46-year-old man’s pistol accidentally discharged Thursday afternoon as he holstered the gun in Fairfax County, Virginia, police said.The accidental shooting happened at the NRA’s National Firearms Museum at 11250 Waples Mill Road in Fairfax.The employee suffered a minor wound to his lower body and was taken to a hospital for treatment, police said.Officers worked with the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office and no charges are expected, according to police.News4 has reached out to the NRA for comment, but has not received an immediate response.Published 51 minutes ago | Updated 13 minutes ago

Dedicated McDonald€™’s employee surprised with bike from inspired customer

Dedicated McDonald€™’s employee surprised with bike from inspired customer

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. — Erie Perry loves his job at McDonald’s, so when his when his only means for transportation broke down, he walked 10 miles to the Route 10 restaurant every day.

Perry normally rides his bike to work, but that was no longer an option as it broke down after years of wear and tear.

“It was just broken down, just weathered, worn down from multiple rides to work, to and from,” said McDonald’s manager Denise Cantu.

Perry started working at McDonald’s more than a year ago. Early on his work ethic became apparent to his co-workers and managers.

“He is so dedicated, he’s going to be here,” said Cantu.

That type of dedication also caught the attention of a customer.

When Karen Craven learned Perry had to walk 20 miles a day to and from work, she knew she had to help.

Craven turned to social media to see if she could get Perry some help.

Within minutes the post caught the attention of her friend Amy Taylor.

“This is somebody that’s chosen to continue to move forward, when it would have been real easy for him to give up and not many people do that,” said Taylor.

Taylor was so inspired, she bought Perry a brand new bike.

“I have to admit, I was completely surprised, I never expected this in a million years,” said Perry.

He said he loves his new bicycle “It still amazes me,” he said.

A lot of people were surprised to learn Perry walked to work each day, because he’s so reliable.

“He’s either walking and sometimes that takes him about 2 hours and then other times he’s riding his bike,” said Cantu.

For Perry, not showing up for work was not an option.

“This was the first store that would hire me, so I figured I had to put in the effort,” he said. “I was raised if you get a job, you’ve made a commitment, you’ve got to honor it, so if it just means me having to get up early or travel a long way, it’s what I’ve got to do.”

Swimming to work (Abdul Malik)

Swimming to work (Abdul Malik)

45 year old Abdul Malik had spent the last 14 years swimming to work.

Malik says “Teaching is my life and these children depend on me so if swimming each day is the price I have to pay then so be it.”

A mental health doctor from England, named Dr Alam, heard of Malik’s remarkable story and has donated him a fibreglass boat.

“On learning about his plight, I decided that he should not be swimming any more to reach his school.”

Dr. Alam said that “I’m happy I could do something to alleviate the woes of a man in need.”

Malik lives in a poor area of India, the Padinjatumuri village of Mallapuram district. Cars are a luxury and something a teacher could never afford. Walking to work is not possible so therefore the only other feasible option for Malik was to take a bus. However, Malik felt that by taking a bus he ran the risk of being late. There’s no guarantee he’d be able to get on the bus, such is the congestion, and even if he was able to it’d take him a further two hours from leaving his house to arriving at work. So, unbelievably, Malik felt he had little option but to swim, as swimming was the only way he could guarantee to get to work on time – which for him, was all that matters.

“There are no bridges to cross this river and the only other route to the school is a two-hour long trek via the bus which is always running late. Therefore, swimming happens to be the only choice and for me to teach my students then this is what I have to do.” says Malik.

Every morning Malik put together a spare pair of clothes into a plastic bag that he then carried over his head. He wrapped a rubber tube around him and then jumps into the dirty Kadalundi river and navigates his way to work. He had been doing this for the past 14 years.

“He is very punctual. In fact much more than those who use other modes of transport. His dedication to his work is superb,” says Headmaster of AMLPS School, K M Mohammed Basheer.

“We love this teacher,” says a student at the school where he teaches.

Every day Malik risked his own health by wading through the Kadalundi river. When most people arrive to work the first thing they do is go and grab a coffee. The first thing Abdul Malik did was get himself dry and changed into a new set of clothes.

Unsurprisingly he’s the most popular teacher at school, and the most punctual. Even when monsoon season hit, and currents become even more dangerous, Malik was still the first person through the door.

People may ask why he did it?

“We wait for him to arrive each day, he’s such a great teacher. We depend on him to get a good education.” says one of his students.

And for Malik, the fact students depended on him was a reason to get up every morning and cross that river.

Malik wasn’t just teaching his students about maths and science, he, like so many of the best teachers, was inspiring them to be better than what they are.

Back in 2014 Malik’s story was shared widely on social media and Dr Alam, a mental health doctor from the UK felt compelled to help Malik.

“On learning about his plight, I decided that he should not be swimming any more to reach his school.”

The fibreglass boat was bought by Dr. Alam and delivered to Mr. Malik at Perumbalam in Anakkayam panchayat. Malik now operates the boat with the help of a pulley and rope tied to the anchorage on both shores of the river.

“This will give him advantage to operate the boat from both shores,” said Dr. Alam.

Initially the pulley and rope system proved problematic so Khajah Shihabuddin, lecturer at Government Polytechnic College, Tirurangadi, offered his class (and his own) technical support to fix the system.

Malik is still the first to arrive at school but he now does so needing only one set of clothes.

College President tells students he doesn’t deal with demands

College President tells students he doesn’t deal with demands

The white president of a college in Virginia just gave a Black Lives Matter group a real hard pill to swallow when they showed up in his office with a list of demands.

“I don’t deal in demands,” said College of William & Mary President W. Taylor Reveley III. “I don’t make demands of other people. I don’t expect to receive demands from people. I love to get suggestions, recommendations, strong arguments.”

“When you approach other people with a demand, instead of their ears opening and their spirit being unusually receptive, you get defensive walls erected,” he continued in the live video streamed on Facebook. “So, I think you all need to think about it.”

A student spoke up after this and said Reveley made an “interesting point” about making suggestions and added, “But I’m going to disagree.”

Reveley wasn’t fazed and reminded them, “That is the beauty of the First Amendment.”

In typical BLM fashion, the students saw their president as clueless and tried to tell him that making suggestions is too nice and makes them “not necessary.”

“No, no, no, that’s not the way the world works,” Reveley retorted. “It is not effective, in my opinion, to approach other people and say ‘we demand’ unless you have the capacity to demand.”

“We are students, and we pay tuition to be here,” someone said. “That is the reason why we are able to write these demands.”

Another said, “So, you have an issue with the way that we are phrasing this? … I think you’re missing the point … We’ve tried to be nice … It’s not working.”

They demanded he listen “to students of color when they tell you this is what needs to happen.”

Unlike those in the room, you will LOVE Reveley’s response:

The disgusted group left the meeting disheartened, with one of them posting the video to Facebook and complaining:

This is what being censored looks like. This is what white supremacy looks like. This is what patriarchy looks like. This is what condescension looks like. This is what being told “you, your issues and your life don’t matter” looks like. THIS is why we say #BlackLivesMatter… [He] is not a benevolent grandpa, he is a man with an agenda that excludes students of color. Call it what it is.

We will call it what it is: a college president with balls big enough to confront a group of anti-American bullies. Let us hope more follows his lead.