The Massachusetts House of Representatives and Senate unanimously approved legislation that will help 150,000 more kids access school breakfast every day.
Hungry kids had a big victory today in Massachusetts, and we are celebrating!
Massachusetts Legislature enacted An Act Regarding Breakfast After the Bell which will ensure as many as 150,000 additional students will be better prepared to learn by having access to breakfast by making it part of the school day—just like lunch is! With this new law Project Bread and our partners are shifting the conversation away from whether or not to serve breakfast after the bell—proven to increase participation and reduce stigma—and toward focusing on how to best implement the most successful breakfast program for students in schools across the Commonwealth so all children can participate.
We applaud our leaders in the legislature for recognizing the importance of child nutrition and for taking this huge step forward for students of Massachusetts.
Far too many children are showing up to school hungry and entering the classroom unable to fully concentrate on the lessons of the day. Before the pandemic it was estimated 1 in 10 children were food insecure in Massachusetts. Now, we estimate that roughly 1 in 5 children live in a food insecure household. Among students eligible for free and reduced price meals only 40% ate breakfast in October 2019. For these children, school meals can account for over half their calories. Missing breakfast because of a late bus or because they don’t want to be the only one of their friends eating in the cafeteria can drastically impact their health and jeopardize any other efforts in closing the opportunity gap.
Recognizing the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, implementation of this legislation is scheduled for the 2022-2023 school year. However, we know even then many students will face food insecurity as well as many of the same challenges that caused lower participation in the past making breakfast after the bell even more critical as communities recover from this crisis.
We can do better, we must do better, and with the enactment of An Act Regarding Breakfast After the Bell we will do better!
We are grateful for the leadership of our legislative champions, especially bill sponsors Senator Sal DiDomenico, Representative Aaron Vega, and Representative Andy Vargas. We also would like to thank the Chairs of the Joint Committee on Education Senator Jason Lewis and Representative Alice Peisch as well as Senate President Karen Spilka and Speaker Robert DeLeo and Ways and Means Chairs Senator Michael Rodrigues and Representative Aaron Michelwitz. We also appreciate the ongoing support of our East Boston legislators for their support on this legislation and many others related to hunger and food insecurity.
Thank you to our Action Team and everyone who contacted their representatives, asking them to support this bill and for getting across the finishline before it's June 31st expiration—we did it! You can join Project Bread's Action Team to stay up-to-date on future Action Alerts and policies, here.
As schools work to implement the requirements of this new law, Project Bread is ready to provide the support schools may need in order to successfully operate breakfast after the bell. Project Bread’s Child Nutrition Outreach Program has provided technical assistance to schools for over 25 years. Our team is ready to support schools select the right breakfast after bell model to fit its needs, outreach strategies to increase participation, promotional resources, and support complying with regulations. Project Bread also provides grants to cover startup costs for schools starting or expanding breakfast after the bell.
In our experience, serving breakfast after the bell is the most impactful way to increase breakfast participation, but the most successful after the bell programs are those where school stakeholders, parents, and the community work together to celebrate the opportunity provided by a healthy school breakfast,
Author(s): Project Bread