Neighborhood schools well prepared for students eating free

By Sarah Clark

Students across the state of Minnesota are now able to eat breakfast and lunch provided by schools for free. Different from past income-based programs, the law signed by Governor Walz in March 2023 covers meals for all students attending Minnesota schools. (Students enrolled in virtual programs or who are homeschooled do not qualify.)

Our neighborhood schools are well equipped for this change in their cafeterias. St. Paul Public Schools have offered free breakfast to all students for many years. Both SPPS and the Roseville Area School District students received free lunches in school cafeterias during the 2021 spring semester due to federal funding during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Murray Middle School Principal Jamin McKenzie supports the new law. “I am happy that all students are supported with eating lunch because students struggle to learn and concentrate in the classroom when their stomachs are empty,” he said.

Karen Duke, principal of St. Anthony Park Elementary, agreed with McKenzie and added, “In past years our school budget has had to cover unpaid lunch accounts, and we won’t have to do that anymore.” Duke also noted that while whole lunches are free to all students, ala carte items such as milk have a charge. (A carton of milk is 50 cents.)

At the time of publication, Falcon Heights Elementary Principal Beth Behnke was looking for more kitchen help at her school. In anticipation of more students eating school-provided meals, Behnke reported her school had one position open with more posted across the Roseville Area School District.

Both Murray Middle School and St. Anthony Park Elementary reported that their cafeteria staffing was already adequate, but that staff would monitor supplies closely in order to make proper adjustments to ordering patterns. 

Sarah CR Clark is a regular contributor to the Bugle.

Photo cutline: Students at Saint Anthony Park Elementary School line up to grab a free breakfast before heading into their classrooms for the day. Photo by Sarah CR Clark.

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