Here are four reason why Project Bread is committed to getting Breakfast After the Bell legislation passed in Massachusetts as soon as possible, and what you can do to help!
Project Bread is working overtime right now as part of the Rise and Shine Coalition to get an Act Regarding Breakfast After the Bell (S.267/H.591) passed in Massachusetts! This bill would require high-poverty schools, where 60% or more of students qualify for free (or reduced price) school meals, to make breakfast part of the regular school day, just like lunch.
Every child deserves breakfast, here are four big reasons why we need this legislation right now and how it will go a long way to ensure more kids are eating breakfast every morning and ready for the school day.
1 in 9 children in Massachusetts don't have enough to eat at home. School breakfast and lunch ensures they are receiving two solid meals a day, but only 39% of children who need school breakfast are receiving it. By missing breakfast some of these children go as long as 14 hours between dinner the night before and lunch at school.
In schools with a traditional “before the bell” program, breakfast is served in the cafeteria before the school day, requiring students who need breakfast to arrive to school early, which is not possible for a lot of students and can make them feel singled out as the "poor kids". Participation in school breakfast when it is served before the bell like this is often as low as 10% of students...or lower. So although school breakfast may be available, it is not accessible.
Making breakfast part of the regular school day is proven to increase participation up to 70% or more! Breakfast after the bell also removes the logistical barriers to access, like a late bus, by allowing students to eat breakfast even if they arrive to school as the bell rings. Breakfast after the bell also reduces the stigma associated with eating breakfast by making it part of the school day.
In 2010, the District of Columbia Healthy Schools Act required breakfast be served after the bell in all high need schools. In that first year participation increased by over 7,000 students representing a change of 34.4%. Similarly, in Nevada, after SB 503 passed, approximately 27,000 more students ate breakfast, representing an increase of 29.3%.
For over twenty years, Project Bread has gone district by district and school by school providing expertise and support to increase breakfast participation. In that time Project Bread and our many partners have increased school breakfast participation significantly. Unfortunately, far too many children are still missing the opportunity to start the day with school breakfast.
According to the Food Research & Action Center, a DC based anti-hunger organization, Massachusetts ranked 33rd in both their 2018 and 2019 school breakfast scorecards. We know we can do better. Many of the states topping this ranking are those where a legislative mandate required high need schools to adopt a breakfast after the bell service model.
The Massachusetts Legislature is prepared to make a $1.5 billion investment in public education with most of the money going to low-income communities. A hungry student is not a prepared student. In order to make the most of this investment, the state should also require high need schools to serve breakfast. Study after study shows that a hungry kid can’t learn. Students who participate in school breakfast show improved attendance, behavior, and standardized test scores, as well as decreased tardiness.
An Act Regarding Breakfast After the Bell would ensure that more children have reliable access to healthy school meals so that they’re ready to learn.
Want to ensure every student who needs school breakfast has school breakfast?
Filed under: Informing Public Policy