New bill aims to continue free, healthy lunches for students

A new Senate bill is aiming for all public-school students to receive free, healthy lunches.
Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 7:18 PM EDT
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MID-MICHIGAN (WNEM) - A new Senate bill is aiming for all public-school students to receive free, healthy lunches.

“Think people are really excited about this program, and there’s a lot of momentum going for it right now,” said Collin McDonough, the Michigan Government Relations Director for the American Heart Association.

Members of the American Heart Association, No Kid Hungry Michigan, and the School Nutrition Association of Michigan are coming together with the focus of keeping healthy school meals free for all students in Michigan.

“During the budget process in June, the state legislature passed one-year funding for healthy school meals for all meaning, if it goes through the budget process every year, it would have to be reauthorized every year,” McDonough said.

With Senate Bill 500, the Healthy School Meals for All program would continue, providing free breakfast and lunch for all students in public schools, regardless of income.

“This is a really exciting issue. We have the opportunity to provide food and nutrition security to those across the state,” McDonough said.

Senate Bill 500 was introduced to the Michigan Senate about a week ago. The bill works by maximizing federal reimbursements for school meals.

“It gives school food service directors a little bit more money coming in from the federal government and the funds from the state in order to have a little bit more in the budget to offer even more healthy items,” said Mary Darnton, president of the School Nutrition Association of Michigan.

The bill is currently sponsored by seven representatives within the Michigan Senate.

“This issue isn’t about politics. This is about putting kids first. This is about putting families first. This is about ensuring everyone has a full belly so they can learn,” McDonough said.

If this bill passes, supporters say it would save the average Michigan family over $800 per year.

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