RICHMOND, Va. — A new bill heading to the Virginia House floor in Richmond would make sure public school students across the state have free breakfast and lunch.
Del. Mike Mullin said House Bill 1967 will allow students to focus on what matters most: getting an education.
“This bill was inspired by when Newport News Public Schools went 100% universal breakfast and lunch," Mullin said. "My own three boys were all elementary school students at the time. I saw that they and their peers were better prepared and their work improved when they weren’t hungry.”
He said the bill will get rid of school lunch debt and ensure all public-school students in elementary and secondary are eligible for free breakfast and lunch.
“Hungry kids are not equipped to learn," Mullin said. "Kids going into debt for food is an insult to our basic values. A starving kid is not set up to be successful in school.”
The bill has bipartisan support. Del. Tim Anderson, who has two children in Virginia Beach City Public Schools, said this bill is about reducing stigma.
“Some kids have free and reduced lunches, some don’t. And the fundamental issue is that a child may be treated different in school whether their parents have money on their accounts or not," Anderson said.
On Monday, the Prince William County Chapter of Jack and Jill of America took 50 students to the Virginia Capitol in Richmond to lobby on behalf of universal free lunches.
The students range from 3rd grade through 12th grade and wrote letters to various Virginia delegates. The students spoke in front of legislators and held a private meeting with House Minority Leader Del. Don Scott.
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