abc
QUICK LINKS:

Survey: Most Minn. Schools Deny Hot Lunch to Poor Kids

Updated: 02/11/2014 4:30 PM
Created: 02/11/2014 10:12 AM WDIO.com

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - A new survey shows a majority of school districts in Minnesota deny hot lunch, and sometimes any lunch, to children who can't pay.

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

Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius called the report "troubling" and urged schools to make sure kids never are turned away from a hot meal. "As you know, for too many of our children, school meals may be the only nutritious meals they receive," she wrote in a letter to superintendents.

On Tuesday, Gov. Mark Dayton said he would propose in the upcoming legislative session that lawmakers authorize an additional $3.5 million to help schools cover lunch costs for students who can't.

"No child in Minnesota should be denied a healthy lunch," Dayton said in a press release from his office.

About 62,000 low-income children and teens are in Minnesota's reduced-price lunch program, which means they can get a hot, nutritious lunch for 40 cents, with the rest covered by public funds. But if students don't have 40 cents, some schools deny or downgrade lunches.

Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid questioned 309 school districts for the survey.

The Star Tribune reported that 46 Minnesota school districts said they immediately or eventually refuse to feed students who can't pay. More than half the districts in the state - 166 of them - provide an alternative meal, typically a cold cheese sandwich. Another 96 school districts provide a hot lunch regardless of ability to pay.

The survey found some schools take meals from students in the lunch line and dump them in the trash when they don't have money in their accounts. Some send students home with a hand stamp that everyone can see that says "LUNCH" or "MONEY." Others give students a bread-and-butter sandwich and carton of milk.

"They have budgetary pressures and they have new federal mandates for healthy foods, (and) food has gotten more expensive," said Jessica Webster, staff attorney for Legal Aid's Legal Services Advocacy Project, which conducted the survey with support from Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger. "Many just see this as a parental responsibility. Some districts don't see refusing to serve food as turning children away. They say, 'We give you a cheese sandwich for three days and then it's your parents' responsibility.'"

A measure that would expand the free lunch program to all students who now receive reduced-price lunch never made it into the education budget bill last session. Rep. Yvonne Selcer, DFL-Minnetonka, is preparing to push the bill again this year.

___

Information from: Star Tribune

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Front Page

  • Smokehaus to Deliver Sandwiches, Meat by Bike

    The Northern Waters Smokehaus is looking to avoid traffic this summer by also going green. On May 5, they will begin delivering their sandwiches around downtown Duluth and down Park Point by bike.

  • Fitger's 5K Kicks Off Race Season

    After a long and cold winter, many runners are ready to hit the road. Finally, this weekend, the racing season in the Northland will begin when a record 2,000 runners run in the 25th Annual Fitger's 5K.

  • Former Minn. Minister Accused of Abuse Reported in Spokane-area

    The Washington State Patrol says investigators have acted on 20 or 30 tips this week as they check locations in the Spokane-area in their search for a self-professed minister accused of sexually abusing at least two girls in rural Minnesota.

  • 2 Hospitalized After Lincoln Park House Fire

    Two people are in the hospital after a house fire in Duluth's Lincoln Park neighborhood on Friday. Assistant Fire Chief Bryan Bushey said the damage is estimated at $30,000. There is no word on the conditions of the victims.

  • Playful Otters Explore Their New Aquarium Home

    Two new river otters have been living at the Great Lakes Aquarium for nearly two months, but they were just released for public view Thursday. On Friday, they were avidly exploring their new home in the Otter Cove.

 

Winter Weather Advisory

MN AREAS AFFECTED: Koochiching; North Itasca; South Itasca
Expires: 4/19/2014 10:00 AM

Winter Weather Advisory

MN AREAS AFFECTED: Carlton, South St. Louis; Central St. Louis; North St. Louis
Expires: 4/19/2014 12:00 PM

Winter Weather Advisory

MN AREAS AFFECTED: Northern Cook, Northern Lake; Southern Cook, North Shore; Southern Lake, North Shore
Expires: 4/19/2014 4:00 PM

Flood Warning

MN AREAS AFFECTED: Aitkin; Crow Wing
Expires: 4/24/2014 7:00 AM

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement