LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A $53 million proposal to provide lunch and breakfast for all Nevada students was introduced Tuesday at the Nevada Legislature in Carson City.

Democratic Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui (D-Clark County) introduced a bill draft request to pay for a “Universal School Breakfast and Lunch Program.” It will ensure that every student in the state has access to a healthy breakfast and lunch at school, whether their family can pay for it or not.

“No student should go hungry in the classroom, and this program will ensure that every child in Nevada has access to the nutrition they need to thrive,” Jauregui said.

“We owe it to our students to provide them with a quality education and research shows part of that is ensuring they do not go hungry. By providing universal access to breakfast and lunch, we recognize the importance of education and the health of all Nevada students,” she said.

Hungry students are less productive and absent more often, research has shown. Health, academic and behavioral issues can begin with poor nutrition.

Jauregui’s proposal came as the Assembly Education Committee heard proposed changes to existing legislation covering free meal programs. State education officials want to reduce the requirement for monitoring when the meals are actually used, part of proposed revisions to Assembly Bill 54 (AB54).

AB54 also revises the state’s rules on attendance, setting “chronic absenteeism” as 10% of the time a student is enrolled. For example, if a student was absent 18 times in 180 school days, it would be classified as chronic absenteeism. That would bring state law into alignment with federal standards.

Some of the language in AB54 drew criticism from lawmakers. In particular, the need to provide notice before missing school in an emergency was targeted as a section that needed to be modified.