ST. PAUL, Minn. — On Tuesday, the Senate passed legislation to provide free school lunch and breakfast to every student (HF 4) in a 38-26 vote. Co-author Senator Erin Maye Quade (DFL-Apple Valley) celebrated the passage as a decisive step toward ending childhood hunger in Minnesota.
“I’m proud to have helped pass this legislation that acknowledges the simple fact that hungry kids can’t learn,” said Senator Erin Maye Quade. “No child should go hungry at school, and no family should have to worry about how they’ll pay their student’s lunch debt—a concept that should have never existed in the first place. We’re showing our students and families that we care about kids’ health as well as their ability to learn and succeed. I’m grateful to Senator Heather Gustafson, who championed this legislation, and to all of my colleagues who are helping to make Minnesota a place where no child goes hungry at school or at home.”
Senator Maye Quade has led the movement to end childhood hunger throughout her legislative career. It was the issue that spurred her to run for the Minnesota House in 2017, and she went on to co-found the bipartisan Childhood Hunger Caucus and pass a House resolution naming childhood hunger as a top priority for Minnesota legislators.
Senator Maye Quade’s first legislation passed in 2023 will provide $5 million in emergency funds to Minnesota food shelves. As pandemic-era expanded SNAP benefits ended in March and the cost of food rises, food shelves have experienced up to 400% increases in usage statewide, and families have faced growing uncertainty about whether they can afford to feed their children.
Senator Maye Quade is chief author of multiple other bills to combat hunger in Minnesota, including legislation to expand the Healthy Eating, Here at Home program to allow participants to shop at farmers markets; and provide $7.3 million in funding to food relief programs and infrastructure.
HF 5 passed the House on Feb. 9 on a 70-58 vote and will move to Governor Walz’s desk for signature into law.