New Mexico Offers Free Lunch to All Students

( – New Mexico is the latest state to offer and pay for free lunches to all public school students regardless of the family’s income. 

Governor Michelle Grisham signed the new law on March 27th. New Mexico and other states are digging into their own budgets to pay for “free” services that were paid for by federal tax dollars through a variety of pandemic-related programs.

As those expire, and with rising inflation, families are having a harder time meeting basic needs. For example, the price of a dozen eggs has hit $7 or more in many areas of the country, prices Americans have never experienced in living memory.

New Mexico’s free school lunch program will cost $22 million a year, which lawmakers wrote into the annual budget. Some of the money will be used to remodel school kitchens, allegedly to allow them to serve “healthier” meals.

Flanked by dozens of elementary school students. Gov. Grisham described the bill as an “investment” that will bring future benefits including “generations of healthier New Mexicans.”

Other states are getting into the free-school-lunch-for-all game. California and Maine have laws that make these free meals a permanent fixture. Vermont is considering doing the same, while Nevada is spending $75 million to keep its free lunch program operating.

Colorado voters approved a ballot measure in the fall of 2022 that would allow school districts to offer free meals for all.

As the idea of guaranteed free school meals spreads, advocates have begun talking not just about students, but about feeding “families.” The idea that public schools are responsible for feeding the families of students is a very recent one.

Schools around the country are facing mounting debt as more families find themselves unable to pay their children’s school lunch bills. Legislatures in some states appear to believe the solution is for taxpayers to pick up the tab.

New Mexico’s Education Department said that 67% of its students meet federal qualifications for free lunch already. 

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