A new bill proposal wants to make sure no student goes hungry at school even if their lunch bills are unpaid.
Democratic state Sen. Bob Hertzberg introduced the proposal in February in an attempt to end lunch shaming at California schools.
Denying a child food in front of their peers can bring shame and embarrassment, especially if they're too young to understand why it's happening to them.
Additionally, children who are hungry are more likely to have trouble learning, according to the American Psychological Association.
While school districts work with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide free and discounted meals to students who qualify, many schools use the 'cheese sandwich' meal as an alternative meal when a child's parents owe money.
This is where a child receives a cold cheese and bread sandwich instead of a hot meal. The practice receives backlash from parents and educators, claiming it's not a satisfying meal and can make a child feel ashamed for being singled out.
Hertzberg's bill would ban the process of lunch shaming by making sure schools provide lunch to needy kids and students with unpaid bills without making them feel different. Schools would also be required to notify guardians when unpaid lunch fees exceed five full-priced lunches.
However, the senator's office said the bill doesn't prescribe what kind of lunches schools can offer. It only states local schools must come up with a plan for eliminating lunch shaming to be approved by the California Department of Education.
The bill directs districts to exhaust all options in finding a way to fund the meals through free or reduced-priced meals or reimbursement.
Hertzberg's office said there are "all sorts of ways" for a school district to fund unpaid lunches.
But many schools already struggle to afford healthy foods to students which is the reason behind the cheese and bread alternative, according to the American Federation of Teachers.
In Sacramento, lunch shaming doesn't seem to be prevalent.
In Sept. 2016, Gabe Ross, a spokesperson for the Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD), told ABC10, about two-thirds of the students in the district qualify for a free lunch by federal guideline.
He said he'd never heard of a child having a meal taken from them since the majority qualify for free lunch.
The Elk Grove Unified School District's alternative lunch does consist of a cheese sandwich but also includes fruit and either milk or juice, according to EGUSD spokesperson, Xanthi Pinkerton.
Some EGUSD schools also offer breakfast. Students with exhausted funds receive cereal, fruit and milk.