Kids and parents in Minnesota won’t have to worry about affording school meals thanks to a new law that guarantees free school meals for all children in the state.
Gov. Tim Walz (D) signed the bill into law Friday to cheers and hugs from some of the kids who will benefit from the program.
The new law provides free breakfast and lunch for all K-12 students, regardless of their parents’ income.
“It’s a historic, bipartisan win that means no kid will go hungry at school — and that Minnesota is one step closer to being the best state in the country to grow up,” Walz said in a statement.
The bill drew the ire of Republican state Sen. Steve Drazkowski, who argued Tuesday that “hunger is a relative term” in his opposition to feeding kids.
“I have yet to meet a person in Minnesota that is hungry,” Drazkowski said on the Senate floor in St. Paul before voting against the legislation. “I have yet to meet a person in Minnesota that says they don’t have access to enough food to eat.”
Drazkowski represents Wabasha County, where more than 8% of kids lived in poverty in 2021, up from about 7% the previous year, according to the Federal Reserve of Economic Data.
Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan spoke about her own experiences growing up with food insecurity in a rebuke against Drazkowski.
“To our decision-makers who believe they have never met someone who is experiencing or has experienced hunger — Hi, my name is Peggy Flanagan, and I was one in six of those Minnesota children who experienced hunger,” she said.
Minnesota now joins other states, including Maine, California and Colorado, in giving free meals to kids.