A Republican state senator voted against a bill to feed schoolchildren, arguing that hunger wasn't a problem there because he hadn't met anyone without enough food.
Sen. Steve Drazkowski made the remarks on the floor of the Minnesota State Capitol on Tuesday before voting on HF 5, which would provide free school lunch and breakfast for students in the state.
"I have yet to meet a person in Minnesota that is hungry," said Drazkowski. "I have yet to meet a person in Minnesota that says they don't have access to enough food to eat."
The bill passed despite his opposition, and is now headed to the state's governor to be signed into law.
According to Feeding America, a national hunger relief nonprofit, around 340,000 Minnesotans are facing hunger, just under a third of them children.
More than 13% of children in Minnesota live in "food insecure" homes, per the anti-childhood-hunger campaign No Kid Hungry.
Drazkowsksi said in his floor speech that hunger is "relative," complaining that it was not well-defined in the bill.
"I had a cereal bar for breakfast," he said. "I guess I'm hungry now."
Drazkowski also described the bill as "pure socialism," arguing that state money should instead be going toward reading, writing, and arithmetic in Minnesota.
Though Drazkowski voted against the bill, it passed 38-26 in the Senate. Four Republicans joined the Democratic majority in voting for it.
A video of Drazkowski's remarks was shared widely on social media, with the Democrat author of the bill highlighting that there is indeed hunger in Drazkowski's district.
Drazkowski represents District 20 in the southeast of the state.
"1 in 5 students in Sen. Drazkowski's district qualifies for free and reduced lunch," said Sen. Heather Gustafson in a tweet.
Colleen Moriarty, the executive director of nonprofit Hunger Solutions Minnesota, told The Washington Post that Drazkowski's "eyes may not be open" if he's not met somebody in the state who is hungry.
There were 5.5 million visits to Minnesotan food pantries in 2022, a record high, according to the nonprofit. Visits increased in 2022 on the year before across all age groups, with the total number of visits by under-18s increasing by more than 50%, per the nonprofit's data.