Compassionate individuals in Minnesota are taking steps to eliminate child hunger and eradicate school lunch debt.
Governor Tim Walz signed a bill ensuring that school meals are now free for all students. With approximately 1 in 6 children in Minnesota facing hunger and food insecurity, this initiative aims to make child hunger a thing of the past.
Governor Walz emphasized the commitment to feed every child, stating, “This is the assurance that no one falls through the cracks.” Drawing on his experience as a former teacher, he highlighted the significance of providing free breakfast and lunch, considering it one of the best investments in a child’s education.
Heather Gustafson emphasized the difficulty of learning when hungry and expressed that the bill ensures every K-12 student in Minnesota receives the necessary food at school.
As nationwide school lunch debt has increased, communities have rallied to support their classmates, from setting up lemonade stands to selling keychains and organizing fundraisers. Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan, for whom hunger at school is a deeply personal matter, acknowledges the importance of addressing this issue to create a more supportive learning environment for all children.
“I was one in six of those Minnesota children who experienced hunger,” Peggy shared. “I’m one of the children who grew up with a different colored lunch ticket because my family utilized free and reduced-priced lunch. There were nights when I ate, and my mom, Pat Flanagan, said she simply wasn’t hungry. It wasn’t until I was an adult and I was a parent that I realized she was lying to protect me from the reality of our food insecurity… that she was hungry.”
For Peggy, the bill represents the most significant initiative she has ever worked on. She affectionately calls it the “Pat Flanagan School Meals Act” in memory of her mother, Pat.
“By providing free breakfast and lunch to all of our students, we are removing barriers and removing stigma from the lunch room… This is an investment in the well-being of our children, as well as an investment in their academic success.”
Tens of thousands of children facing hunger in Minnesota will now have daily reliable meals.
Let’s hope that more places follow Minnesota’s beautiful example in lovingly taking care of our children.