Dayton Wants Money to Help Students Pay for Lunch

Updated: 02/11/2014 8:10 PM

Students having lunch at a school.
Students having lunch at a school.
Photo: Photo:

Gov. Mark Dayton says the state should provide additional funding to ensure all Minnesota schoolchildren have access to lunch after a report found some districts deny it.
Dayton says Tuesday that no Minnesota student should be blocked from having a healthy lunch. A report released a day earlier by Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid found 46 school districts have policies denying lunch to students who don't have sufficient funds to pay for meals.
The report found in some districts, lunchroom workers threw meals in the trash if students couldn't pay.

Mounds View schools is one of 97 districts that will always provide a hot lunch to a child even if they cannot pay.

“I don't see the point in making an example of the student, it’s not the student that is deficient in the lunch account, it's an adult issue,” said Superintendent Dan Hoverman.

Some districts will serve an alternative meal to kids if they can't pay, like a peanut butter sandwich.

Some of the districts who refuse to serve hot lunch or even an alternative meal to a child who cannot pay include Inver Grove Heights, Mahtomedi, Osseo, West St. Paul and Stillwater.

Dayton says he will propose spending $3.5 million to help districts cover lunch costs for students who can't pay. In addition, his education commissioner has urged districts to take steps necessary in order to make sure all students receive a lunch.
About 62,000 low-income children and teens are in Minnesota's reduced-price lunch program. That means they can get a hot, nutritious lunch for 40 cents, with the rest covered by public funds.

The report comes after a school in Utah drew criticism for throwing lunches in the trash if students couldn't pay.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.