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Colorado bill for free school lunches heads to ballot

Colorado bill for free school lunches heads to ballot
Published: May. 11, 2022 at 5:54 PM MDT
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DENVER, Colo. (KKTV) - You will soon have the chance to vote on whether every school in Colorado could provide free meals to students. A measure just passed by the state legislature is heading to the November ballot.

This comes as the federal government’s National School Lunch Program ends, which provided free lunches to students during the pandemic. Now, some school districts are discussing the return of lunch fees for the 2022-2023 school year.

Senator Brittany Pettersen is a sponsor of HB22-1414, Healthy Meals For All Public School Students. She says this measure could help ensure that kids do not go hungry at school.

If passed in November, a “Healthy School Meals For All Program” would be created in the Department Of Education. Public Schools that choose to participate in the program would be able to provide free meals to all students.

Schools could also receive local food purchasing grants to buy Colorado grown, raised or processed foods for school meals.

Senator Pettersen says some of the funds for the program will come from federal dollars. The rest would come from capping itemized and standard state income tax deductions for taxpayers with an income of $300,000 or more.

Amy Gray has kids in the D49 school district. She says this program could help families.

“Taking that burden off of working class parents and especially, you know, those moms who have to get up every morning and pack those lunches and provide that food,” said Gray.

Senator Pettersen says this program could save families an average of $750 dollars a year.

“Families are struggling and this is a way that we can help families save some of their limited resources and making sure that kids are fed at school,” said Senator Pettersen. “And make sure kids are able to concentrate. This is as important as books when it comes to being able to learn.”

The bill will only take effect if it is approved by voters during the November election.

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