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Survey: Some Minnesota Schools Also Refuse Hot Lunch to Students

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UNDATED – A few Utah schools have been in the hot seat recently for refusing to serve lunch to students who have insufficient funds in the lunch accounts.  But, a new report indicates many schools in Minnesota have the same policy.

A recent survey by the Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid reports 15 percent of the school districts in Minnesota have policies to refuse to serve lunch to students who can’t pay for it.  The Sauk Rapids-Rice School District is one of 46 districts who have this policy.

About half the districts in the state offer alternatives like peanut butter sandwiches to students who can’t pay for a 40-cent reduced price lunch.  The St. Cloud Area School District, Sartell-St. Stephen, and ROCORI are among the 166 districts who have this policy.

Meanwhile, 97 districts say they always provide a full menu to students, even if they can’t pay for it.

The Associated Press reports Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius is calling the report “troubling.” She’s urging schools to make sure kids are never turned away from a hot meal.

Gov. Mark Dayton says the state should provide additional funding to ensure all Minnesota schoolchildren have access to lunch after a report found some districts deny it.

Dayton says he will propose spending $3.5 million to help districts cover lunch costs for students who can’t pay. In addition, his education commissioner has urged districts to take steps necessary in order to make sure all students receive a lunch.

Dayton says no Minnesota student should be blocked from having a healthy lunch.

About 62,000 low-income children and teens are in Minnesota’s reduced-price lunch program. That means they can get a hot, nutritious lunch for 40 cents, with the rest covered by public funds.

A total of 309 school districts in Minnesota responded to the 2013 request by Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid for data regarding their school lunch policies for low income kids.  21 districts did not respond.

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