Gov. Lujan Grisham signs House Bill 10, ends student co-pays for reduced-fee lunches
SANTA FE – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Monday signed House Bill 10, which eliminates student co-pays for reduced price school breakfast and lunch. This bill, which passed both chambers of the Legislature with unanimous support, complements the Governor’s Childhood Hunger Initiative, a comprehensive plan to address one of the highest food insecurity rates in the nation.
“Many of our families miss the criteria to qualify for free school lunch, but still have difficulty coming up with the co-payment for a reduced fee meal, particularly where they have multiple children in school,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said. “A 40-cent copay should never come between a child and the food they need to grow and learn.”
The governor praised the sponsors – Reps. Willie Madrid and Melanie Stansbury and Sen. Pete Campos – for their leadership on this measure, which will make school meals accessible to an additional 12,500 students in New Mexico.
House Bill 10 comes with an appropriation of $650,000 to the state Public Education Department to cover the co-pay costs for students who qualify for reduced-price meals. This legislation will reimburse the districts for the copays normally paid by the child, ensuring that districts are kept financially whole. Because of federal matching rates for school meals, the new law has the potential to bring in approximately $9 million in federal funds to the state of New Mexico.
The bill signing happens to fall on the first day of National School Breakfast Week, a weeklong celebration of the national School Breakfast Program and the academic and health outcomes for children who eat school breakfast.
“This school year, New Mexico is on track to serve more than 13,500,000 school breakfasts,” said Secretary of Public Education Ryan Stewart. “That’s nearly 14 million opportunities to demonstrate to our students that we are invested in ensuring they have the nutrition they need to be able to focus in the classroom and retain what they are learning.”
New Mexico was recently recognized by the Food Research & Action Center in their School Breakfast Scorecard. New Mexico ranks third in the nation on the rate of participation of low-income students in the School Breakfast Program. In New Mexico, for every 100 students who participate in the School Lunch Program, 69.4 students eat School Breakfast; only Vermont and West Virginia reach more low-income students with their breakfast programs.