A Republican state senator in Minnesota said Tuesday he was voting against a bill to provide free breakfast and lunch for school students because he had never seen anyone go hungry in the state.
“I have yet to meet a person in Minnesota who is hungry,” Sen. Steve Druzkowski said in remarks on the floor of the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul before voting on the legislation. “I have yet to meet someone in Minnesota who says they don’t have enough food to eat.”
“Now, I must say that hunger is a relative term,” the 58-year-old MLA said. “I had a cereal bar for breakfast. I think I’m hungry now.”
Drzykowski was elected to the State Senate for the first time in 2022 after serving for nearly 15 years in the State House. He represents a district in the southeastern part of the state along the Mississippi River.
The bill’s author, Democratic-Farmer-Labor Sen. Heather Gustafson, said it is estimated that about 275,000 students receive free and reduced-price school meals in the state. She said that another 18% of students who are likely to qualify have not submitted the required paperwork to do so.
“Roughly one in six children is food insecure – meaning they don’t know when and where the next meal will be available, if they even get one,” Gustafsson said.
She said passing the measure, which would cost $420 million over the next two years, was “the right thing to do.”
“Being hungry makes it almost impossible to learn,” Gustafsson said. “Let’s go feed the kids.”
The measure passed by a vote of 38-26, and is expected to be signed into law by Gov. Tim Walz.
Druzkowski called the bill “pure socialism”. It is about the government what they are going to feed the children and how much they are going to feed them.
Any additional funds should be used to improve overall education, he added. He said, ‘This is what our schools are for.
Druzkowski’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment on his floor remarks.