SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – In legislation widely expected to be signed by the Governor, New Mexico school kids at public and charter facilities will soon be able to get free meals. What’s being called the “Healthy Hunger-Free Students’ Bill of Rights,” Senate Bill 4 recently passed the New Mexico House and now heads to the Governor’s desk.
The bill requires all public schools (including charter schools) which participate in the National School Lunch Program to offer free “high-quality” meals to all students. Schools would be required to offer a free breakfast and lunch to any student who requests a meal, regardless of income.
The bill allows private schools to opt in. Tribally controlled schools could also decide if they want to participate. Democratic Senators Michael Padilla (Albuquerque) and Leo Jaramillo (Española) sponsored the legislation. The bill passed the Senate on March 4.
Amid House debate on the bill over the weekend, one concern was whether or not kids would get to eat local foods. “I want our kids to eat healthy. We have an abundance, an abundance, of food products here in the state,” Rep. Candy Spence Ezzell (R-Roswell) noted during debate on the House floor.
The bill also looks to cut down on food waste by students. It would create “share tables,” where students could return uneaten food for donation to students, food banks, or other groups. KRQE News 13 discussed the bill at length in an episode of the New Mexico News Podcast in February.
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham endorsed legislation on the topic during her State of the State address and recently tweeted in support of the bill. The Governor has until April 7 to take action on the legislation.