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Letter: It's time to offer free school lunches for all

Rev. Gretchen Graf writes, "Caring people and churches are already stepping up to pay school lunch debt for their neighborhood children, but it would be much simpler to make this a state-wide solution so no child misses out."

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After almost 80 years of our country’s school lunch program, we can declare success. Our children are eating better during the school day and learning better as a result. They are also developing healthy nutrition habits that will last a lifetime.

The program needs a few tweaks to function most effectively. First we need to be sure every child is receiving this benefit, especially the middle-income children who aren’t covered by federal free lunch. Parents are stretching to make ends meet and the cost of school lunch can be difficult.

Second, we need to insure that no child incurring school debt is shamed by being treated differently than other children and no parents are harassed for inability to pay. This creates negative school experiences that are harmful to everyone.

House Bills 1491 and 1494 address these issues by making school lunch free for everyone and ending shaming . Caring people and churches are already stepping up to pay school lunch debt for their neighborhood children, but it would be much simpler to make this a state-wide solution so no child misses out. We can lift this burden from our families and remove stigma from our children, and we should do it.

Rev. Gretchen Graf serves at the Family of God Church (ELCA & UCC) in Grand Forks.

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This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.

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