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'Hunger Day' Topics at MN Legislature: Lunch Shaming, Mobile Food Shelf

According to state officials, 4 in 10 Minnesota public school students are eligible for free and reduced-price lunch programs. (Adobe Stock)
According to state officials, 4 in 10 Minnesota public school students are eligible for free and reduced-price lunch programs. (Adobe Stock)
February 25, 2020

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Groups in Minnesota concerned with fighting hunger are pressing state lawmakers to approve bills addressing the issue of "lunch-shaming" in schools and funding for mobile food-shelves. Those are the top priorities of the annual "Hunger Day on the Hill" at the State Capitol.

Colleen Moriarty, executive director of Hunger Solutions Minnesota, said they hope to drive the message home to lawmakers that approval of these bills is vital. She said the school lunch bill would go a long way toward reducing students' public humiliation over lunch room debt.

"The elimination of lunch-shaming really includes alleviating the conversation that happens between a child and a food-service person or a teacher or anyone, and elevates it to a discussion that happens between adults," Moriarty said.

She said they also want the state to adjust the threshold to qualify for school lunch programs so more families can get help.

The mobile food-shelf bill would reauthorize grant money so these trucks can continue to be dispatched to communities in need. Moriarty said there are roughly 30 such trucks operating across the state.

She said at a time when the Trump administration wants to tighten eligibility for federal food assistance programs, the state needs to be ready to step in.

"Rather than bricks-and-mortar response, these food-shelf vehicles - outfitted with food - can really help to stem the tide of need in locations where it just isn't possible to have a bricks-and-mortar response," she said.

Hunger Day on the Hill is this Thursday, February 27. Minnesota lawmakers approved a two-year budget last year. This session is focused on whether there should be additional spending from the state's projected surplus of more than $1 billion.

Disclosure: Hunger Solutions Minnesota contributes to our fund for reporting on Hunger/Food/Nutrition, Livable Wages/Working Families. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Mike Moen, Public News Service - MN