In a time where other states budgets are bursting, North Dakota has socked away more than $6 billion in something called The Legacy Fund – money collected from the state’s monthly oil tax revenue.
Worthy ideas, to be sure. But one idea that’s gaining traction and that would benefit nearly everyone in the state is to fund school lunches for all K-12 students. The idea is supported by the ACLU of North Dakota, the North Dakota AFL-CIO and North Dakota United, among other organizations.
School lunch debt is a problem that’s growing around the country. At some schools, children have had their meals thrown in the trash for unpaid school lunch debt. Others have been barred from participating in extra-curricular activities or after-school activities. Some families have even been referred to social service agencies.
Last year, Fargo Public Schools saw its student lunch debt grow to around $30,000. Families who weren’t able to pay were being sent to debt collectors.
When Jason Boynton, a math professor at North Dakota State University, heard about the problem, he wanted to do something. So back in August, he hosted a music show called Lunch Aid and was able to pay off last year’s lunch debt for Fargo-area students.
Soliciting donations to cover school lunch debt isn’t exactly a sustainable solution. But using money from The Legacy Fund is.
If North Dakota created a universal school lunch program, it would be the first of its kind in the nation. And if a conservative state like North Dakota could so something like this, maybe it would inspire others to do the same.
After all, it’s hard to learn when you’re hungry. And to eliminate student hunger in North Dakota would be quite the legacy for the state to leave.