MM Curator summary
[MM Curator Summary]: Allowing schools to use Medicaid enrollment as eligibility for free meals will get free meals to an additional 90,000 kids in Minnesota under a new pilot being run in 8 states nationwide.
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An estimated 90,000 additional Minnesota students will get free meals at school this year under a pilot program that will automatically qualify kids who are enrolled in Medicaid, Gov. Tim Walz announced Monday.
Students generally qualify for free school meals in one of two ways: Their parents fill out a form stating they have a low enough family income, or their school “directly certifies” the student based on their enrollment in other government assistance programs, such as SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) or Women, Infants and Children (WIC).
This year, Minnesota is one of eight states chosen for a U.S. Department of Agriculture pilot program that will directly certify Medicaid recipients for free school meals, Walz’s office said.
“This project means fewer children will go hungry at school next year, and we know that’s the number one way we can help students succeed,” Walz said in a news release.
Walz said the Medicaid option adds about 202,041 students to the number of kids directly certified for free meals. Of those, an estimated 90,000 have not already signed up for free meals.
The impact, both on school district budgets and the number of kids getting free meals, figures to be greater than those 90,000, however.
If a school or group of schools has 40 percent of their students directly certified, they can qualify for free meals for all students under the Community Eligibility Provision; schools that reach 62.5 percent can do so at no additional cost to the school district because federal reimbursements will fully cover the meal costs.
St. Paul Public Schools previously announced it plans to spend $1.7 million next school year in order to provide free meals for all students at 18 schools that still qualify for the provision but no longer qualify at the full reimbursement rate.
Congress provided free meals to all students regardless of family income each of the past two school years because of the coronavirus pandemic, but that benefit is going away.