State law establishes a policy regarding unpaid meal charges that prohibits shaming and/or denying meals.
California Education Code 49557.5 Meals for Needy Pupils in Kindergarten and Grades 1 to 12
(b) (1) A local educational agency, including a local educational agency in which there is a school that is required to serve a free or reduced-price meal during the schoolday pursuant to Section 49550 and at which all pupils are not eligible to be served breakfast and lunch under the Community Eligibility Provision or Provision 2 of the federal National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C. Sec. 1751 et seq.), shall ensure that a pupil whose parent or guardian has unpaid school meal fees is not denied a reimbursable meal of the pupil’s choice because of the fact that the pupil’s parent or guardian has unpaid meal fees and shall ensure that the pupil is not shamed or treated differently from other pupils. This paragraph does not prohibit a school from serving an alternative reimbursable meal to a pupil who may need one for dietary or religious reasons, or as a regular menu item. (2) If a local educational agency is required to provide to the department or to the United States Department of Agriculture a copy of the meal charge policy required pursuant to memorandum SP 46-2016 issued by the United States Department of Agriculture, the local educational agency or governing board or body of the local educational agency, as applicable, shall make that policy public.