RADIO: Pending legislation would provide free school meals for all public K-12 students in Washington schools

RICCELLI: “We need to be a hunger-free Washington, particularly for our children. This is one of the biggest steps, I think, we can take toward doing that.” [:07]

That’s Representative Marcus Riccelli speaking Thursday in Olympia. The Spokane Democrat has sponsored bills over the past few years that incrementally expanded eligibility for free hot meals in K-12 schools, and this year he hopes to finish the job by making free breakfasts and lunches available to every student who wants them. The state constitution says providing basic education to all students is a primary duty of the Legislature, and his HB 1238 would include free meals for all in the legal definition of basic education. Again, here’s Riccelli:

RICCELLI: “Food is health. We know students aren’t going to thrive if they don’t have access to nutritious meals. I don’t think there’s anything more important we could do. Nutritious food is a key component in the health and well-being of children, and this is an effective step.” [:13]

Riccelli’s school meals bill, which would leverage federal money to help pay for part of the program, appears to have at least some support from minority Republicans, and is scheduled for a vote in the House Education Committee next week. In Olympia, Dan Frizzell.