A bill signed into law Monday by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham will provide free breakfast and lunch to thousands of low-income public school students who have been required to pay a reduced fee for meals through a federal program.

House Bill 10, funded through a $650,000 appropriation to the Public Education Department that was included in the main state spending bill for fiscal year 2021, will eliminate copays of 30 cents or 40 cents per meal for about 12,500 students across the state who qualify for federal reduced-price breakfasts and lunches.

“A 40-cent copay should never come between a child and the food they need to grow and learn,” Lujan Grisham said in a news release.

Her signature on HB 10 came on the first day of National School Breakfast Week.

The national nonprofit Food Research & Action Center, in its recently released school breakfast scorecard, found New Mexico ranks third in the nation, behind West Virginia and Vermont, for the ratio of students receiving free or reduced-priced lunches who also take advantage of school breakfast programs.

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For every 100 New Mexico students who eat subsidized lunches, 69.4 also eat breakfast at school, the nonprofit said.

“This school year, New Mexico is on track to serve more than 13,500,000 school breakfasts,” said Public Education Cabinet Secretary Ryan Stewart said in a news release. “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.”

According to federal guidelines, children in households with an income at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible for free school meals — $33,475 or less per year for a family of four — while those with household income at or below 185 percent of the poverty level — $47,638 or less for a family of four — are eligible for reduced-priced meals.

Children in households participating in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations — as well as foster kids, migrants, homeless children, runaway youth and Head Start participants — also are eligible for free school meals.

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(4) comments

Teresa Tindal

A society is judged by how it cares for its most vulnerable. Proud to see NM feeding the children. What a fantastic Governor.

Brad Doubles

Teresa, not all of the students are "vulnerable." You are being taken for a fool...Answer my question as to what phone they own, what they somke, vape or drink and what they do with their disposable income and you will see....MANY can SURELY afford to buy their own food. But people like you vote for people like our Gov who would rather enable this societal laziness and sloth than to hold folks accountable for making their own way in this State.

Brad Doubles

Ridiculous. Just another give away to parents that abdicate their basic responsibilities to the taxpayer. How many of these parents have a $1200 Iphone and a hefry monthly bill? Most Im sure...and they still cant afford a .40 co pay to feed their kids? How many of these kids, once they reach high school (or before) have that same phone, vape or buy music files online?? Yet STILL, they expect somebody else to buy their brkfst and lunch....then, only 68% graduate...lol Some return on investment that is. At this rate, NM will remain solidly on the bottom of the heap

kyle renfro

totally, agree, just another way to buy votes. I am sure some people do need assistance and have been getting assistance before this but this gov needs to be likeable instead of respectable so she gives freebies. MLG "most lunatic gov."

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