To hear the Show Me Today interview with Representative Brian Seitz (12:33), click below.
State Representative Brian Seitz, R-Branson, says the COVID-19 pandemic taught us that providing free breakfast and lunch to all K-12 students can be done on the statewide and national levels. He has pre-filed a bill that would require Missouri’s K-12 public schools to provide the meals to all of their students regardless of income.
“I think children being fed in the public school system is very important, especially concerning academics. If we can pay for incarcerated inmates to have three meals a day, I’m sure that we can do that for our public school children,” said Seitz.
Missouri has about 20,000 state prisoners, compared to roughly 900,000 K-12 public school students.
According to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, about 38%, or more than 321,000 K-12 students around the state, currently get free breakfast and lunch at school. Seitz said providing school meals to all students comes down to being fair.
“Lower income families can apply currently for the free and reduced lunches,” he said. “But what about those lower-middle income families, because of gas and grocery prices and everything’s going up, they’re struggling to make ends meet but they do not qualify for the current federal system.”
Seitz said he’s still working out the details on how this effort would be paid for and how much it would cost. He hopes that a partnership could be formed with the federal government to cover costs.
His bill does not currently take into consideration any additional staffing and storage capacity to pull off universal free school meals.
State Senator Angela Mosley, D-St. Louis, has pre-filed similar legislation.
The Missouri Legislature’s new session started this week in Jefferson City.
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