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Minnesota becomes 4th state to offer free school meals

Minnesota will supplement federal funds with state money to provide free meals to all students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
A sample of food items available during lunch break are shown at Tonalea K-8 school in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Posted at 12:26 PM, Mar 20, 2023

Students in Minnesota schools will no longer have to worry about having money to pay for a meal. 

The state passed a law that will provide free breakfast and lunch to all students from kindergarten through 12th grade. 

“As a former teacher, I know that providing free breakfast and lunch for our students is one of the best investments we can make to lower costs, support Minnesota’s working families, and care for our young learners and the future of our state,” said Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, who signed the bill into law. 

State funds will be used to supplement federal funds to provide the free meals to students, regardless of their family's income. 

“By providing free breakfast and lunch to all students, we are removing stigma in the lunchroom, helping family pocketbooks, investing in the health and well-being of our children, and ensuring that no student goes hungry for any reason," said Minnesota Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan. 

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Minnesota became the fourth state in the country to pass a free school meal program. California, Colorado and Maine also have laws on the books to offer free meals to students. 

New Mexico lawmakers passed a similar bill this year. The governor is expected to sign it in the coming weeks.  

Children in other states can apply for free or reduced lunch through the federal program. According to the Department of Agriculture, a family of four qualifies for reduced lunch if their household income is below $51,338 a year. Families of four making less than $36,075 qualify for free lunch. 

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