Minnesota advocates push to cover meals for all students

Hunger Solutions Minnesota
Hunger Solutions Minnesota(FREE TO USE)
Published: May. 29, 2022 at 6:28 PM CDT
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – For the last two years, Federal pandemic related funding ensured that every school meal in the state of Minnesota was covered. But with that funding set to expire in June, a group of activists are pushing to make sure no student goes hungry.

One in six children suffer from food insecurity, and one in four that deals with food insecurity, come from families who do not qualify for financial help with school meals. To combat that, Hunger Solutions Minnesota wants to keep the free meals as a permanent program.

“We’re worried about what this could mean for families and for schools,” Hunger Solutions Minnesota Policy Director Leah Gardner said. “I will say we will remain hopeful for any chance for them to come back for a Special Session to get the education bill done.”

During the latest legislative session, the effort did receive support from Gov. Tim Walz. The nearly $187 million it would cost to implement the program was included in the Governor’s budget recommendations, but ultimately, it did not pass.

“There’s so many ways that food is linked to performance in the classroom,” Gardner said. “It’s definitely part of the equation when we are thinking about other education investments. We can’t just think of literacy, and fail to meet kids most basic needs.”

Gardner is hopeful that a Special Session will be called. She wants something to be passed so that lowest income families and schools can at least continue the program.

Maine and California have passed similar laws.

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