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School lunch shaming now against the law in California

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(Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

California just took a step toward making its school environments a little more inclusive.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law a new piece of legislation that guarantees all students will receive lunch even if their parents or guardians have not paid their meal fees, according to 4029 News. 

The bill, authored by state Sen. Robert Hertzberg, says students shouldn't be denied a meal of their choice because of unpaid fees. It also ensures "that the pupil is not shamed or treated differently from other pupils."

The legislation also addresses ways to more effectively notify parents and guardians of a negative balance.

Newsom's support for the bill was in part inspired by a young boy, the California governor said.

"Earlier this year, Napa County elementary school student Ryan Kyote called national attention to how kids at his school were shamed and singled out because of inadequate funds in heir school lunch accounts," Newsom said in a statement.

The 9-year-old boy gathered his allowance, all $74.80 of it, and used it to pay off his third grade class's lunch debt.

"He showed how at many schools across the country, students whose parents are not able to pay for their lunch are given a cheaper, 'alternative' lunch that causes them to stick out from their peers," the governor said in his statement.

The two met earlier this year, the governor said.

"I want to thank Ryan for his empathy and his courage in bringing awareness to this important issue," Newsom said in a statement.

Kyote isn't the only young student to bring attention to the issue of student meal debt.