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A Wisconsin group criticizes two of its members of Congress, a new report says the Phoenix area cannot meet its groundwater demands, and Nevada's sporting community sends its priorities to the governor.

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The Senate aims to get the debt limit spending bill to President Biden's desk quickly, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis makes a campaign stop in Iowa, and a new survey finds most straight adults support LGBTQ+ rights.

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Oregon may expand food stamp eligibility to some undocumented households, rural areas have a new method of accessing money for roads and bridges, and Tennessee's new online tool helps keep track of cemetery locations.

ND Lawmaker: Still Hope for Expanding School Meals

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Wednesday, March 29, 2023   

This week, the North Dakota Senate rejected a plan to expand eligibility for free school meals, but the idea has support from many agencies and organizations, and a key sponsor said he is not giving up.

The bill, which had cleared the House earlier this session, called on the state to provide an additional $6 million so more students could get no-cost meals offered under the Federal School Lunch Program.

Rep. Zach Ista, D-Grand Forks, one of the bill's sponsors, said a large contingent of North Dakotans have made their voices heard on the issue. He argued the Senate is missing an opportunity to address growing concerns about food insecurity around the state.

"There are people that, you know, even come from two-income households that are struggling to make ends meet," Ista pointed out.

More than two dozen individuals, educators, and organizations testified in support of the bill. Ista noted the funding could be included in a larger spending plan before the session ends. The current measure failed in the Senate by only one vote. Some Republicans acknowledged hunger issues among children, but argued parents should take more responsibility for the issue.

As backers try to win over more support in the Senate, Ista added they still have visions for a plan to establish free meals for all students, regardless of income.

"The $6 million figure, I think, is a good down payment on expanding no-cost school meals in the state as this issue continues to resonate with North Dakotans," Ista stressed.

Before clearing the House, the bill originally had $89 million set aside for "universal" school meals, but was eventually trimmed to $6 million. This year, Minnesota adopted no-cost meals for all students, joining a handful of other states taking similar action.


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