Senate Democratic Leader Justin Alfond will appeal the rejection of several bills designed to fight student hunger in Maine.
“Student hunger is holding back the next generation of Maine leaders. A student’s biggest worry should not be where their next meal will come from.” Sen. Alfond said. “Failure to pass these bills means more children will go hungry for no good reason.”
Food insecurity in Maine is rising disproportionately. Nearly half of Maine’s school-age children qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. Hunger affects communities from Calais to Upton, and Fort Kent to Kittery, but many eligible children continue to go hungry. Studies show that hunger affects children’s performance at school, so inadequate nutrition today can jeopardize Maine children’s futures for years to come.
All three of Sen. Alfond’s bills were rejected in party line votes, with the Council’s five Republican members blocking their approval for consideration by the Legislature when it convenes for the second regular session in January. The bills are:
- LR 2409, “An Act to Increase Collaboration Between the Department of Education and School Food Service Directors,” which would give schools the tools they need to ensure all qualified students receive free meals at school.
- LR 2410, “An Act to Feed Young Children by Strengthening the Child and Adult Care Food Program,” which would streamline the application for qualified after school facilities such as YMCAs that want to participate in federal anti-hunger programs; and
- LR 2416, “An Act to Feed Children from Low-income Families,” which would ensure that a lack of cash on any given day is never an obstacle for eligible children to receive meals at school.
Bills for the second session must be allowed in by the Legislative Council, a body comprised of the top five Democrats and top five Republicans in the Legislature. Given the split makeup of the Council, bipartisan support is needed for any bill to advance to the Legislature.
The Legislative Council will meet to consider appeals on November 19.
“I urge my Republican colleagues to reconsider their votes on these crucial and commonsense bills,” Sen. Alfond said. “Maine kids should not go hungry because of partisanship in Augusta.”