Massachusetts House of Representatives has unanimously passed a new anti-hunger bill that will work on providing free or reduced-price breakfast to school-going children. Now, this act about Breakfast After the Bell (H.4218) has moved on to the senate, and after getting approved it will be a step forward in eliminating food insecurity.
Reduction in Food Insecurity
In Massachusetts, every one in 9 children is confronting food insecurity. So, there is a critical need for a law that will ensure that eligible students in high-poverty schools are provided with breakfast.
However, as most programs provide breakfast prior to the beginning of the school day, the participation is seen by only 39 percent of the eligible students. Whereas, it has proven that providing all students with breakfast after the bell, during the school day, can notably increase the participation level among the eligible children.
The new anti-hunger bill passed by Massachusetts House of Representatives would make all Massachusetts’ public K-12 schools to provide breakfast after the beginning of the school. The schools will be required to offer free or low-price meals to 60% or more of the eligible students under the National School Lunch Program.
According to Andy Vargas, the bill sponsor representative, in one Haverhill school, the participation of the school children elevated from 42% to 85%, after the implementation of the bill Breakfast After the Bell.
In the kids consistently eating their breakfast, this program can not only reduce food insecurity but also cause improvements in physical and mental health. Moreover, it can also lead to better school attendance, improved academic scores, higher rates of graduation, and better-earning potential.
Increased Well-being and Educational Success
This act is the best thing that can be done for school students in Massachusetts. Another Representative, Aaron Vega, said that kids are expected that they would be ready to learn when they come to school.
On the contrary, if they haven’t taken breakfast, they will be more concentrated on their hunger rather than studies. The law Breakfast After the Bell will allow the eligible students to begin their day with breakfast while using the annual USDA reimbursements of nearly 25 million dollars.
For 25 years, Project Bread is working in collaboration with Tusk Philanthropies, managing this legislative effort. This act has shown success for students in various areas including Pennsylvania, Illinois, Tennessee, Washington, and New Jersey.
The partners in the Rise & Shine coalition and the Greater Boston Food Bank have also supported the efforts made by Project Bread. According to Tusk, this anti-hunger bill has the potential to provide breakfast for almost 150,000 school-going children. And is essential for the educational achievements and well-being of the students.
Further Tusk has also acknowledged the Representatives Andy Vargas and Aaron Vega for sponsoring the act Breakfast After the Bell. He has also expressed his thanks to Alice Peisch – House Chair of the Joint Committee on Education, Speaker Robert DeLeo, and Representatives Mindy Domb, Marjorie Decker, Adrian Madaro, and Paul Tucker for their major support.
In short, this new legislation would ensure that the 1.5 billion dollars invested in the education system will make certain that children start their school days ready to learn after having their breakfast.