Governor Dayton serving students breakfast alongside Coon Rapids staff.
All Minnesota students should have access to a healthy meal. And thanks to a bill signed into law by Governor Mark Dayton two weeks ago, more than 125,000 students across Minnesota will have access to healthy lunches and breakfasts in school. The legislation (Chapter 312, HF3172) invested $4 million in school lunch and breakfast programs statewide.
Today, at Morris Bye Elementary School in Coon Rapids, Governor Dayton highlighted one key component of that new law which included $569,000 for an initiative ensuring all 64,000 Minnesota kindergartners have access to a healthy breakfast, free of charge.
"We cannot expect our students to succeed on empty stomachs , " said Governor Dayton. " Healthy meals are crucial to our students' achievements. I thank Senator Alice Johnson, Representative Jerry Newton, Senator Jeff Hayden, and Representative Yvonne Selcer for passing this very important measure."
Governor Dayton was joined today at Morris Bye Elementary School by Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius, state Senator Alice Johnson, and state Representative Jerry Newton. Senator Johnson and Representative Newton authored the provision this session to ensure all kindergartners have access to a free and healthy breakfast.
When a child is hungry, they have a difficult time learning and concentrating in school, said Senator Johnson. Studies show a nutritious breakfast will reduce absenteeism, help close the achievement gap and increase graduation rates. I thank Governor Dayton for his leadership on this issue.
I thank Governor Dayton and legislators that worked to make sure all of our kids have access to a good meal and a great start to their school day," said Representative Newton. "We have accomplished a great deal over the past two years to improve our schools and provide Minnesota kids with a world-class education.
In addition to providing breakfast for every kindergartner, the new law also included $3.5 million for the school lunch program. In January, Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid released a report revealing that 46 Minnesota school districts had policies that denied students access to a nutritious lunch, if those students do not have sufficient funds to pay for their meal. This new funding will help ensure 61,000 students from low-income families have access to healthy meals at lunchtime.
"Providing our students with access to nutritious meals is a critical part in making sure they are ready to learn when they enter the classroom. A healthy meal gives students the energy and nourishment necessary to focus on their number one job: learning." said Commissioner Cassellius. "This initiative paired with other new investments will help our schools prepare students for success in career and college."