Democratic-NPL Lawmakers address School Lunch Funding

North Dakota Democrats introduce bills to ensure North Dakota students never go hungry at school.

Representative LaurieBeth Hager (D-Fargo) introduced House Bill 1491 which would provide no cost school lunches for North Dakota public school students.

In her testimony about HB 1491, Hager remarked, “I think each of us knows that if we are hungry or tired it is difficult to concentrate and therefore it is difficult to learn or even participate in classroom activities.”

Representative Zac Ista (D-Grand Forks) introduced House Bill 1494 which would ensure schools do not take back and throw away a meal if a student cannot pay, limit a student’s participation in any school activities, graduation ceremonies, field trips, athletics, activity clubs, or other extracurricular activities, or stigmatize students who cannot afford their lunch.

Ista emphasized in his testimony, “I believe we should find a way for the State of North Dakota to provide no-cost meals to all students. If we did that, HB 1494 would become largely unnecessary. But unless and until we provide no-cost meals to all students, HB 1494 remains necessary, as it would ban the harmful practice known as ‘lunch shaming’ in North Dakota. In doing so, we would be protecting children against harmful stigmatization if they cannot afford a school meal. No child should have to suffer such an embarrassment at school, especially on account of something they cannot control like their family’s income.”

Both bills received overwhelming support in the House Education Committee today.

School Lunch funding was a cornerstone issue for Democratic-NPL candidates in 2022, and Democratic-NPL legislators are keeping their campaign trail promises in introducing this legislation.