Today, Governor Mark Dayton proposed providing additional funding in the upcoming legislative session to ensure that every child has access to a nutritious lunch in Minnesota schools. A new report released this week by Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid revealed that 46 Minnesota school districts have policies that deny students access to a nutritious lunch, if those students do not have sufficient funds to pay for their meal. According to the survey, more than half of all Minnesota school districts provide low-income students alternative meals, such as a cold cheese sandwich, when they are unable to pay the 40 cents required for a reduced-price hot lunch.
“No child in Minnesota should be denied a healthy lunch,” said Governor Dayton. “We cannot expect our students to succeed on an empty stomach. I look forward to working with the legislature to make this issue a priority in the upcoming legislative session, and fully fund the bill authored by Sen. Jeff Hayden and Rep. Yvonne Selcer.”
Governor Dayton today committed to including $3.5 million in his supplemental budget proposal to ensure that no Minnesota student is denied access to a hot meal at lunchtime. Additionally, Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius reached out to all Minnesota school districts this week, urging them to take whatever actions necessary to ensure that all Minnesota children have access to a healthy, nutritious lunch.
“I urge all school districts to work with their Food Service Directors to find ways to ensure children are never turned away from receiving a hot meal,” wrote Commissioner Cassellius. “As you know, for too many of our children, school meals may be the only nutritious meals they receive. We also know that children learn best when they have nutritious meals throughout their days.”