Governor Pushes For Hot Meals For All Students

Created: 02/11/2014 10:54 PM
By: John Doetkott

(ABC 6 News) -- Education officials are making a new push to make sure that no child leaves school feeling hungry.

Governor Mark Dayton wants to add around $3.5 million to help districts guarantee hot meals for every student.

A recent survey of 309 school districts in Minnesota found that 46 districts will deny meals of any kind to students who can't pay. Five of those school districts are from our area: Kasson-Mantorville, Blooming Prairie, Lanesboro, Chatfield, and Owatonna.

The report also found that some lunchroom workers will even throw away meals if student funds come up short.

And although Kasson-Mantorville is one of the districts that doesn't guarantee food, officials said they don't follow that rule.

"We've had some kids even go below the zero balance, but we've never taken a lunch away from any of the kids,” said Mark Matuska, superintendent for the Kasson-Mantorville School District. “In fact, it's really difficult for us as a district to punish the kids for not having some money in their food account."

Matuska also said officials will look into revising that policy next session.

ABC 6 also checked with Austin, Rochester, and Albert Lea school districts. Officials in those districts said they have systems in place to alert parents when a child's account is low, and will offer at least a substitute meal if they can't pay.