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Closing arguments today in NY Trump trial; KY education activists campaign against public funds for private schools; FL expert stresses vigilance, and compassion this hurricane season; and working to create connections, age-friendly communities in Mississippi.

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Actor Robert DeNiro joins Capitol Police officers to protest Donald Trump at his New York hush money trial, while both sides make closing arguments. And the Democratic party moves to make sure President Biden will be on the ballot in Ohio.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but decomposing mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

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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