On August 15th, Governor Walz announced that Minnesota will expand availability of free meals this school year.
Walz said: “This is a huge win for Minnesota families and schools. As a former classroom teacher of 20 years, I know that accessibility of school meals is top of mind for thousands of families and students preparing for school in the fall ,” … “ This project means fewer children will go hungry at school next year, and we know that’s the number one way we can help students succeed. ”
“The project is a result of cross-agency innovations and discussions through the Children’s Cabinet with Minnesota IT Services, Department of Human Services, and Minnesota Department of Education. To be eligible, students have to be currently enrolled in Medicaid and meet the USDA income guidelines.
Minnesota was one of 8 states selected for the USDA pilot program to implement in the 2022-23 school year. DHS submitted data to MDE that identified 491,349 children enrolled in Medicaid who met the income threshold and requirements for direct certification for FRP meals. Of these children enrolled in Medicaid:
- 321,782 were in student records and, of those, 202,041 students are estimated to be newly directly certified through Medicaid, meaning they were not already directly certified through other DHS programs.
- Of the 202,041 students, 149,063 students were eligible for free school meals and 52,978 were eligible for reduced-price (FRP) school meals. In Minnesota, the state pays the cost of reduced-price meals for eligible students, meaning all students directly certified will receive school meals at no cost to them.
- Of the students eligible to be newly directly certified by Medicaid, around 90,000 are estimated to not currently be enrolled in FRP meals.
This pilot continues the commitment the Walz-Flanagan administration has made to ensure seamless access to food for children during the pandemic through Pandemic EBT. That program has provided over $500 million to an estimated half a million students and young children across the state by using administrative data from the departments of Education and Human Services. Minnesota is one of 33 states that have been able to maintain a Pandemic EBT program into summer 2022.”
This is extremely exciting news for many children and families, and a positive way to start the school year!
This information was pulled from: https://mn.gov/governor/news/?id=1055-537749