By Makenzie O’Keefe

DENVER (CBS4) – Feeding hungry, low-income kids is the focus of a proposed bill at the state Capitol.

Right now, the state and federal governments cover the full cost of lunches for elementary students who qualify for a free and reduced lunch. This bill would expand that to middle school students as well.

free lunch 2 Colorado Lawmaker Pushes To Expand Free Lunch Program To Middle School

(credit: CBS)

Under current law, students who fall under the poverty level can receive a free lunch from kindergarten to 5th grade. Families only pay a $0.40 copay. However Democratic State Sen. Rhonda Fields wants to expand the program to cover students through 8th grade instead.

Fields said one of the reasons she crafted this bill was because she wanted to put an end to lunch shaming in the school cafeteria.

“I have been hearing parents and students that are shamed when they don’t have money and they get stamp on their as a reminder,” she told CBS4 News.

free lunch 1 Colorado Lawmaker Pushes To Expand Free Lunch Program To Middle School

(credit: CBS)

It’s estimated the bill would provide an additional 1.4 million meals a year to Colorado kids if passed. Fields said it’s important to make sure kids have a healthy meal and are ready to learn.

This bill would cost the state an additional $500,000 to $750,000 and the cost is one reason some lawmakers are opposed to it. It does have bipartisan support.

Makenzie O’Keefe joined the CBS4 team as a reporter in 2017. Read her bio, follow her on Twitter at @makenziepokeefe or email her your story ideas.


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