Less than half of low-income students eat school breakfast on a daily basis. Passing breakfast after the bell legislation would increased access to over 150,000 students!
For many low-income students, school meals can account for over half of their daily calories, and school breakfast can make a world of difference in their ability being able to learn, live, and thrive. Since 1995, Project Bread has prioritized working with school districts to increase participation in the National School Breakfast Program and through this work, we have found that breakfast served after the bell is the most effective strategy for achieving higher participation.
We are proud of what we and our partners have accomplished by working district-by-district, school-by-school, but the fact remains that less than half (38%) of low-income students eat school breakfast on a daily basis in Massachusetts. We are still falling short of closing the gap between children starting the day fed and ready to learn and those who are unable to concentrate on an empty stomach.
That is why Project Bread is a proud member of the Rise and Shine Coalition and a supporter of An Act Regarding Breakfast After Bell (S.267/H.591).
On Monday, I had the opportunity to testify at the State House in support of this bill in front of the Joint Committee on Education. I shared with the members of the committee our commitment to preventing and ending hunger in Massachusetts. I also shared how critical it is to pass this legislation, which would require high poverty schools (those with at least 60 percent of students eligible for free or reduced-price meals) to serve breakfast after the bell.
States such as Nevada, New Mexico, and West Virginia saw large increases in school breakfast participation after passage of legislation similar to this bill. For example, one year after Nevada passed legislation requiring schools with 70% or more free and reduced-price eligible students serve breakfast after the bell, participation among low income students increased by 29.3%, representing an increase of over 26,000 students eating breakfast each day.
With the passage of this legislation, we can move beyond efforts to bring the remaining schools on board, and instead focus on how those schools can best implement a successful program for their students.
Click here to read my full testimony to the Joint Committee on Education. Then join us in asking legislators to support this bill and ensure greater access to school breakfast for over 150,000 low-income students across Massachusetts. Click here to take action now.
Author(s): Erin McAleer