My Point of View: More differences between Democrats and some Republicans

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, September 19, 2023

My Point of View by Joe Pacovsky

Gov. Walz signed a bill that provides free breakfast and lunch for Minnesota’s students. The signing of the bill, which was approved with bipartisan support in the Legislature, was accompanied with applause and hugs from the children in attendance. Unfortunately, Sen. Dornink and Rep. Bennett voted against the bill.

Joe Pacovsky

The most valuable asset of a business, city, state or country is its people. Educated, creative and motivated employees and populations will maximize the growth of our economy and produce wealth for Minnesotans. One in six kids in Minnesota face food insecurity, and according to the Minnesota Department of Education, 18% of students that qualify for school meal assistance don’t get it because of the complicated application process.

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Productive employees are created by providing them with a quality education and the tools to learn. Research has shown that if children are hungry, they are not ready to learn. Improving children’s ability to learn makes them better able to enter the workforce as adults. Inadequate nutrition is a major barrier for children to learn.

Free breakfast and lunches for Minnesota’s students makes business and economic sense. It prepares future workers to drive Minnesota’s economy. Not only will this improve our future economy, but it also improves efficiency. Free school meals will eliminate the huge amount of wasted administrative time each school district expended to keep track of which student’s parents or guardians had or had not paid for their school lunch meals.

Universal free school meals for all students levels the playing field for students of all income levels and removes the stigma of getting free meals under the old program.

Free meals are a win-win for everyone. The students get the nutrition they need, affluent parents get something for their taxes without the nuisance of making payments, lower-income parents have their children’s meals provided (which they already had the right to be provided but without the administrative paperwork), the school districts save a huge amount of wasted time administering the old system.

Providing nutritional meals to all of Minnesota’s students will benefit our businesses and the future growth of our economy. Free meals will provide another tool for our disadvantaged students to reach their full potential and contribute to society.

Joe Pacovsky is a member of the Freeborn County DFL Party.