ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 9) - A bill that will provide free school lunches to all students in Minnesota is now law.
Gov. Tim Walz's signed the bill into law on Friday after a modified version was approved by the Minnesota House on Thursday.
"As a former teacher, I know that providing free breakfast and lunch for our students is one of the best investments we can make to lower costs, support Minnesota’s working families, and care for our young learners and the future of our state," Walz said in a statement Friday. "This bill puts us one step closer to making Minnesota the best state for kids to grow up, and I am grateful to all of the legislators and advocates for making it happen."
The bill had been debated in recent weeks, with senators approving the bill earlier this week, then sending it back to the House.
Democrats lauded the bill for ensuring that all students will have access to meals across Minnesota, while Republicans have criticized the initiative as an expensive measure that fixes a problem that doesn't need fixing and the state would begin picking up the tab for people who can already afford to pay for their own meals. During arguments over the bill, one GOP lawmaker faced scrutiny for comments saying he never met a hungry person.
Advocates for the bill have pointed to the importance nutrition plays in education.
The program is expected to cost about $200 million a year.