With the end of the 2015 legislative session in sight, there is much debate on how to invest the budget surplus, but no issue is more critical than eliminating hunger and food insecurity among Minnesota’s children.
According to Feeding America®, the nation’s largest domestic relief organization, 16 percent or over 205,000 children in the state of Minnesota were food insecure in 2012. Nearly 1 in 7 of our kids do not have secure access to food, and rates are even more alarming in rural areas.
Inadequate nutrition during a child’s formative years may impact his or her capacity to learn, physical and mental health, and ability to lead a fully productive and happy life. Currently our state’s kindergarten students are provided free school breakfast; the Legislature is considering the governor’s budget request to expand free school breakfast to all pre-K through third-graders, ensuring an additional 83,000 children start their day ready to learn. Offering breakfast at no charge increases participation in school breakfast programs and eliminates both the stigma and administrative cost of administering a reduced price meal. I call on the Legislature not only to support the governor’s request, but to expand free breakfast to all pre-K through grade-12 students. The state of Minnesota and its communities have invested heavily in schools and teachers, but can children, particularly adolescents, be expected to reach their full academic potential when distracted by hunger?
Any parent awakened by the wails of a ravenous baby or who marveled watching their teenager eat an entire box of cereal at one sitting know that children simply cannot focus and flourish when they are hungry. Why limit the benefits of a free breakfasts to our pre-K through third-graders? All our kids deserve access to the most important meal of the day.
MinnPost welcomes original letters from readers on current topics of general interest. Interested in joining the conversation? Submit your letter to the editor.
The choice of letters for publication is at the discretion of MinnPost editors; they will not be able to respond to individual inquiries about letters.