Minnesota Senate backs free school meals for all students

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Lunches and breakfasts would be free to Minnesota students regardless of income under a bill that won approval in the state Senate on Tuesday.

The state will pick up the difference between federal reimbursements and the actual costs. It’s estimated that the program will cost the state about $400 million in a two-year budget period.

Universal school meals have been a Democratic priority this session. But even a few Republicans crossed over as the Senate passed it 38-26 Tuesday. The bill now goes back to the House for a final stamp of approval on some changes before it goes to Democratic Gov. Tim Walz for his signature.

Backers say students who are hungry can’t learn. But critics argued that it would be better to focus on reading, writing, and arithmetic.

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