Sen. Steve Drazkowski stands by ‘hunger’ comments, local school district responds

Published: Mar. 16, 2023 at 9:32 PM CDT
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – Governor Tim Walz is planning to sign a bill into law Friday that would provide a free breakfast and lunch for every child at a participating school in Minnesota.

But one Republican state lawmaker from Mazeppa is doubling down on comments he made while debating the bill that drew national criticism. He spoke with KTTC Thursday in his first interview since stating, “I have yet to meet a person in Minnesota that is hungry.”

“The people I interact with on a daily basis and have knocked on thousands of doors through the campaign, I have not been introduced to a person who says they do not get enough food, not one. And we instead should be spending our money on helping the kids learn,” Sen. Drazkowski said.

He said there are already programs to help those who need food assistance.

“Minnesota already has numerous resources to help kids and families get food on their tables and in their lunch boxes. Volunteers and non-profits are already stepping up at hundreds of food shelves around our state to meet the needs of their own communities. We in live in a time in history where we have the safest, cheapest, and most abundant food supply in the history of the world. The number of government programs already in place to make certain that kids and adults have food in our state is many. Every kid in school that wants breakfast or lunch gets it. Currently that means that 40% of the population of kids who qualify for Medicaid, and whose families are up to 200% of federal poverty guidelines, gets school breakfast and lunch. Every family that qualifies for the generous taxpayer-funded food-bearing EBT cards gets them. These are just some of the reasons that kids are not going hungry,” in a statement from Senator Steve Drazkowski.

He would rather see funding go to “reading, writing, and arithmetic.”

“Instead of adding redundant money to a program that is already being funded, the kids are already getting food in school, the kids are eating, the kids are not starving, the kids are not hungry,” he said.

Zumbrota-Mazeppa Superintendent Michael Harvey heard of the senator’s initial comment and shared with KTTC, he knows hunger can impact how a child learns.

“We know that if kids are hungry, they can’t learn. We know if we can’t feed these kids, how are we going to educate them?” Harvey asked.

Harvey said the bill heading to Governor Walz’s desk could be a game changer.

“This puts everyone at the same level, regardless of your background, where you come from, your family upbringing. When you come to school, everyone starts learning from that same position when it comes to hunger,” Harvey said.

He also shared a message to Sen. Drazkowki.

“I would challenge the senator to look into the eye of a first or second grader and explain to them why they feel hungry and why he thinks that’s okay,” he said.

“In the aftermath of the Minnesota Department of Education squandering up to $500 million in the Feeding our Future fraud scandal, Minnesota Democrats now want to give the same agency an additional $425 million to pay for the school lunches of those kids whose families are already paying for them. This is nothing more than their socialist effort to make Minnesotans dependent upon government. Minnesota’s socialist party doesn’t want our citizens to aspire to personal responsibility for themselves or their families. They want them all enrolled in government,” in a statement from Senator Steve Drazkowski.