Sen. Acosta, Rep. Sanchez reintroduce bill providing free school meals

 

STATE HOUSE – Sen. Jonathon Acosta and Rep. Enrique George Sanchez have reintroduced legislation to provide free meals to all students of public schools.

“As our state makes improving educational outcomes a top priority for the rest of the decade, it’s also time for us to give our students the most important thing they need for educational success – a school day free from hunger,” said Senator Acosta (D-Dist. 16, Central Falls, Pawtucket). “The evidence is crystal clear that we can improve learning, improve student health and reduce social stigma, all with just two meals each school day. The status quo lets too many students fall through the cracks.”

The bill (2024-S 2046, 2024-H 7337), which was passed in the Senate but not the House in the 2023 session, would amend the General Laws to require free breakfast and lunch be provided for all students by inserting “free breakfast” into the statute that applies to free school lunches. The bill further amends the statute by eliminating the language that states only students and families who meet certain financial requirements be offered free lunch.

“We can’t begin to invest in our schools if our students are hungry,” said Representative Sanchez (D-Dist. 9, Providence). “The rising prices of housing, utilities and food mean that some families who don’t currently qualify for free school meals can’t afford them, leaving them hungry or in debt. It’s time to make sure no student attends school on an empty stomach.”

Advocates for universal free school meals point to improved attendance and academic performance, healthier students, and reducing stigma associated with eating school meals, ending the problem of unpaid school meal debt and easing the administrative burden for schools to track meal payments. Similar legislation last year was supported by a coalition of more than 30 local organizations.

 

 

A person is being questioned in connection to the death of a University of Georgia student. A UGA spokesperson said the person is currently with police. Nursing student Laken Hope Riley left for a morning run Thursday and concerned friends called police when she never returned. Officers found the 22-year-old's body in a forested area behind the school with "visible injuries."        More U.S. sanctions are being placed on Russia in response to the death of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. President Biden announced more than 500 sanctions targeting individuals connected to Navalny's imprisonment and death. The sanctions come one day before the two-year anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.       Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley is vowing to stay in the presidential race regardless of the outcome of tomorrow's GOP primary in her home state. Haley trails former President Trump by as much as 35 points in polls of South Carolina GOP voters. Polls are open tomorrow from 7 a.m to 7 p.m. Eastern time.       Two National Guardsmen are dead after a military helicopter crash in Mississippi today. The helicopter was on a routine training flight and crashed in Booneville Friday afternoon. That's near the Alabama border. Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves confirmed the tragedy.        The trial for the weapons handler in the "Rust" movie shooting will continue today in New Mexico. Hannah Gutierrez, who is accused of bringing live ammunition to the movie set, has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter and evidence tampering. Prosecutors claim Gutierrez is largely responsible for the accidental shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the film in October of 2021.       A software company could become the third U.S. business to reach a value of two-trillion-dollars. If Nvidia [[ en-VID-ee-uh ]] reaches that mark by the end of today's market close, it would shatter the record for the fewest number of trading days to earn its second trillion. That means Nvidia will have accomplished the feat in 175 trading days, compared to 516 trading days for Apple and 543 trading days for Microsoft.       A former "Desperate Housewife" is joining the cast of "Only Murders in the Building." Variety reports Eva Longoria will have a recurring role in season four of the series, although there's no word about her character and storyline. Longoria is the second new cast member announced, joining Saturday Night Live alum Molly Shannon.