House committee to hear ‘Breakfast After the Bell’ bills

   

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Two lawmakers are looking to ensure children in Missouri’s school systems have the opportunity to begin their day on a full stomach.

Democratic Reps. Cora Faith Walker and Chris Carter have both proposed bills that would require certain public schools to offer breakfast after the bell. Both measures — HB 132 and HB 309 — are scheduled for a public hearing in the House’s Special Committee on Student Accountability on March 12.

Under the identical pieces of legislation, public schools and charter schools would be required to offer breakfast in the classroom to their students, regardless of their family’s income level, grades, attendance record, or chosen mode of transportation. All publicly funded schools in which at least 70 percent of students were eligible for free or reduced price meals in the previous year would be required to offer breakfast.

“One of the most often discussed topics among Missouri legislators is how to improve education and the welfare of our children,” Walker said. “And here in Missouri, nearly one in every five children lives in a household in which they do have limited access to food. They are struggling with hunger. With this bill, we can ensure that our children are guaranteed the chance to start off their morning with the most important meal of the day.”

Walker said that studies have shown a lack of proper nutrition affects cognitive, social, and emotional development, and children who struggle with food insecurity are more likely to have problems learning, growing, and interacting.

She went on to note that a little over half of children from households who are eligible for free or reduced-price breakfast through the federal School Breakfast Program are eating it. Since breakfast would be offered to every student under the legislation, Walker believes it would reduce the stigma around the School Breakfast Program and prevent bullying.

“With this legislation, we can take a major step to combat child hunger in the state, by simply changing how breakfast in our school systems is offered,” Walker said. “Every child in our state deserves every advantage we can offer, and through this measure, we can put our children on the path to success. We can ensure that hunger will never hold a child back, and ensure a healthy environment in which they can grow and learn.”

Some school districts in the state are already serving breakfast to students in the classroom. The Jefferson City News-Tribune recently reported that local leaders called the program a “boon for students.”