Pre-filed bills in Missouri could give free food to students

Published: Jan. 2, 2023 at 4:14 PM CST
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LACLEDE COUNTY, Mo. (KY3) - Two pre-filed bills could give students free food during the school day in Missouri.

”It’d be one less thing they’d have to worry about providing their kids throughout the school day,” said Joel E. Barber Elementary School Superintendent Dr. Rachelle Jennings.

Right now, thanks to state money, the school gives free breakfast to students, but unless kids are on free or reduced lunch programs, parents at the smaller school need to pay for lunch for students.

”We used to provide free lunches to our students back before COVID. Then afterward, we are no longer eligible for the CPE status, which is the Community Eligibility Provision. So that had to stop. Obviously, we’ve had a lot of parents who we’ve had to kind of help in that situation,” said Dr. Jennings. “Because we were no longer eligible for that, because of our numbers, you have to meet a certain percentage. And so when we no longer met that after COVID, then we had to go back to charging families for lunches. And so we’ve had to kind of help support families who needed some extra help.”

The two bills filed are from both sides of the aisle. Democrat State Senator Angela Mosley’s bill would provide free meals to any students who asked for them at any state public school.

It would create a “Universal School Meals” fund to pay for it, but not how much that would take.

Republican Representative Brian Seitz’s bill would give free breakfast and lunch to all public school students.

That bill doesn’t say where the money would come from. Dr. Jennings says the money will need to come with any bills approved.

”If we were the ones that were having to provide that, we would not be able to afford that on our current budgeted money. If the state was looking at providing that money and put in being able to provide those funds, then yes, we would love to take advantage of a program that would allow us to do that,” said Dr. Jennings.

The legislative Session starts January 4th at noon.

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