Governor Mark Dayton served breakfast to students at Morris Bye Elementary in Coon Rapids, taking time to dish on state's recent investment of $4 million in school lunch and breakfast programs.

State lawmakers approved legislation that includes $3.5 million for the school lunch program to help ensure 61,000 low-income students have access to healthy meals at lunchtime.

It also provides $569,000 for an imitative that guarantees 64,000 kindergarten students will be provided a free breakfast.

“We cannot expect our students to succeed on empty stomachs,” said Governor Dayton. “Healthy meals are crucial to our students’ achievements. I thank Senator Alice Johnson, Representative Jerry Newton, Senator Jeff Hayden, and Representative Yvonne Selcer for passing this very important measure.”

Dayton was joined at Morris Bye by Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius,as well as Senator Alice Johnson and Representative Jerry Newton.

"When a child is hungry, they have a difficult time learning and concentrating in school," Johnson said. "Studies show a nutritious breakfast will reduce absenteeism, help close the achievement gap and increase graduation rates.

The new initiatives follow a January report from Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid that showed 46 school districts had policies that denied students lunches if they could not pay for it.

Recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that 138 Minnesota schools were eligible under a provision of new federal law that would make it easier for low-income families to apply for free or reduced price lunches.