ST PAUL, Minn. — School lunches for all Minnesota students was a debate before it was signed into law by Governor Tim Walz on Friday, and on Tuesday it was a heated debate in the Minnesota Senate before it passed out of that chamber.
There was a moment in that discussion on the Senate floor that made it out of Minnesota news and into national headlines – a comment from Republican State Senator Steve Drazkowski.
Speaking on the Senate floor, Drazkowski said, "Mister President, I have yet to meet a person in Minnesota that is hungry. Yet today, I have yet to meet a person in Minnesota that says they don't have access to enough food to eat."
The statement was part of a longer point the senator was making for not supporting the bill for school lunches for all.
Many other Republicans opposed the bill, which was driven by the Democratic majority, but they made arguments more to the point of the cost of the legislation.
Several times in the past week, KARE 11's Jana Shortal reached out to speak with Sen. Drazkowski and received a statement saying that the senator's point was that every kid who wants lunch or breakfast in school gets it. The full statement is copied at the end of this article.
In Drazkowski's district, 10.1% of children fall below the federal poverty line in Winona County, 8.5% in Wabasha County and 13.3% in Goodhue County, according to data from the Minnesota Department of Health.
The numbers triple when talking about kids that qualified for the free lunch program in place before Friday's bill passed.
Drazkowski did not get back to KARE 11 on the specific comments made on the Senate floor Tuesday.
Full statement from Minnesota Sen. Drazkowski:
"Minnesota already has numerous resources to help kids and families get food on their tables and in their lunch boxes. Volunteers and non-profits are already stepping up at hundreds of food shelves around our state to meet the needs of their own communities.
We in live in a time in history where we have the safest, cheapest, and most abundant food supply in the history of the world. The number of government programs already in place to make certain that kids and adults have food in our state is many. Every kid in school that wants breakfast or lunch gets it. Currently that means that 40% of the population of kids who qualify for Medicaid, and whose families are up to 200% of federal poverty guidelines, gets school breakfast and lunch. Every family that qualifies for the generous taxpayer-funded food-bearing EBT cards gets them. These are just some of the reasons that kids are not going hungry.
In the aftermath of the Minnesota Department of Education squandering up to $500 million in the Feeding our Future fraud scandal, Minnesota Democrats now want to give the same agency an additional $425 million to pay for the school lunches of those kids whose families are already paying for them. This is nothing more than their socialist effort to make Minnesotans dependent upon government. Minnesota’s socialist party doesn’t want our citizens to aspire to personal responsibility for themselves or their families. They want them all enrolled in government."
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