Free school meals bill clears House
House Bill 10 ends student co-pays for reduced-fee lunches
SANTA FE – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued the following statement after legislation ending the student co-pay for reduced price breakfast and lunch passed the House of Representatives unanimously on Friday:
“Co-pays are a barrier to many families participating in school breakfast and lunch, especially if they have multiple school-age children. Children who don’t have the 30- or 40-cent copay shouldn’t be shamed, and they certainly shouldn’t be denied the food they need to grow and learn. In a state with incredible wealth and intolerable levels of childhood hunger, we can and we must do better.
“I applaud the House and especially the sponsors, Reps. Willie Madrid and Melanie Stansbury, for their leadership on this measure, which affirms the unequivocal importance of addressing New Mexico’s persistent and unacceptable childhood hunger issue.”
The measure, House Bill 10, appropriates $650,000 to the state Public Education Department to cover the co-pay costs for students who qualify for reduced-price meals. In New Mexico, that’s about 12,500 students. This legislation will reimburse the districts for the copays normally paid by the child, ensuring that districts are kept financially whole.
Currently, reduced-price meals are served for students whose family’s household income is between 130 and 185 percent of the federal poverty line and includes both breakfast and lunch.
Because of federal matching rates for school meals, House Bill 10 will bring in approximately $9 million to the state of New Mexico.