Archived Story

Bill would expand free lunches

Published 9:17am Wednesday, February 6, 2013

By Julie Siple
Minnesota Public Radio News

A bill in the state Legislature that aims to help Minnesota students whose families cannot afford to buy them lunch would expand the free lunch program by 61,500 students.

Supporters of the bill say it would ensure that low-income students have the nutrition they need to learn in school and are not refused a lunch when they cannot pay. But at a cost to the state of $4 million a year, the measure has sparked criticism that it relieves parents of responsibility.

Under a federal program, Minnesota provides free lunches to nearly 250,000 students a year.

The 61,500 students some legislators want to add currently qualify for lunch at a reduced price. For 40 cents a day, they receive a balanced meal, such as a turkey burger, sweet potatoes, fruit and vegetables. But advocates for low-income families say even that can be too much to pay.

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