Ward, Radinovich back increased funding for reduced price lunches
The Minnesota House of Representatives Thursday passed HF 2480, a bill increasing state funding for reduced-price lunches on a unanimous vote of 130-0. Rep. Joe Radinovich, DFL – Crosby, was a co-author on the bill.
“We know that when students are hungry they can’t focus and they struggle in class,” said Rep. Radinovich. “All of our students should have access to good lunches no matter their family income.”
Rep. John Ward, DFL – Baxter, was pleased with the bill’s quick, bipartisan passage.
“Students in Minnesota schools should feel safe and valued, regardless of their family’s income,” said Rep. Ward.
On Feb. 10, Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid released a report that detailed the extent to which Minnesota school districts either turn away kids who cannot afford lunch or provide them with a less nutritious alternative meal. The vast majority of the kids affected are those receiving reduced-price lunches.
The report stated that of the 306 districts that responded to the group’s questions (94 percent of districts statewide), 46 districts (15 percent ) report a policy of immediate or eventual denial to serve hot lunch or an alternative meal to a child that cannot pay.
The federal government provides the majority of funding for school lunches; $2.93 for free meals, $2.53 for reduced-price meals, and $0.28 for fully-paid school lunches. Minnesota adds 12.5 cents to this funding for all three lunches. However, the forty-cent gap between free lunches and reduced-price lunches has resulted in instances of kids being turned away when they can’t pay or being given a less nutritious alternative lunch.
HF 2480 tackles this issue by increasing state aid for reduced-price school lunch by 40 cents, which has the effect of making them free lunches. The bill also prohibits a district from charging a lunch fee to a student who is free or reduced-price lunch eligible.