Universal school meal bill passes Minnesota House

The Minnesota House passed a bill Thursday night that will guarantee breakfast and lunch for students across the state.

House File 5 passed 70-58. A companion bill is making its way through Senate committee hearings.

While free and reduced-price lunch programs already exist, many Minnesota families who experience food insecurity currently don’t qualify.

“Minnesota is a state that values education and wants to see every child succeed, but that is not possible when 1 in 6 students are trying to learn on an empty stomach,” the bill’s author, Rep. Sydney Jordan, DFL-Minneapolis, said in a statement. “Today’s vote brings us a step closer to providing the food security families need and the education our students deserve.”

The proposal would apply to all schools participating in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National School Lunch program, including charter and private schools. If passed, the state would pay schools the difference between the average cost of a school meal and the reimbursement they receive from the federal government.

Gov. Tim Walz indicated his support for the bill Thursday after its approval in the House.

“It’s time to provide universal school meals to make sure every kid can succeed and that no child goes hungry,” he wrote on Twitter. “I’m ready to sign it into law.”

On the matter of food insecurity, another House bill to provide $5 million to Minnesota food shelves received unanimous approval.

Follow the progress of other notable bills with our Legislative Tracker.