A RECENT VISIT BY SEN. KIFFMEYER to Big Lake Schools. Pictured is Sen. Kiffmeyer (R) and Food Coordinator Mary Klesk. (Submitted photo.)

Sen. Kiffmeyer visits Big Lake Schools to talk food

Submitted Article
A bill likely to be re-introduced to legislature in February that would expand the free lunch program by more than 61,500 Minnesota students was the topic of conversation during a recent visit Sen. Kiffmeyer made to Big Lake Schools. 
Food Service Coordinator, Mary Klesk, escorted Sen. Kiffmeyer throughout Independence Elementary School and the Middle School, spending the majority of their time in the cafeterias of both. 
“We talked about how our schools are implementing the federally mandated regulations on school meals, about our menu choices, and about a school lunch bill that missed passing by one vote last year that is likely to get introduced again during this legislative session,” said Klesk.
If the bill remains unchanged from last year, it would allow families who already qualify for a reduced lunch price of $0.40 to get free lunches. This unfunded mandate would mean school districts would likely have to reduce funding from other program areas.  
Supporters of the bill last year said it would ensure that students coming from low-income families have the nutrition needed to learn. Those opposed to the bill questioned where the line is drawn between parent responsibility and school district’s responsibility, along with the problem of funding. 
“Big Lake goes above the requirements to treat all students with kindness while serving tasty nutritious foods at a fair price,” said Sen. Kiffmeyer. “The state should leave this well-working program alone and not add additional burdens.”
Big Lake Schools currently has 650 students on the free lunch program and 272 on the reduced lunch program. Both programs are partially funded by the state. 
 

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Darlene "Dar" Trovall

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