By TYLER MASK
This week, schools across the country are celebrating National School Breakfast Week, and Texas may be celebrating the loudest. Thanks to a law passed in 2013, Texas public schools are working to provide school breakfast to more students in need.
Several food and nutrition advocacy groups, including Center for Public Policy Priorities, Texas Food Bank Network and Children at Risk, worked with law makers during the 2013 Legislative Session to pass the new expansion - Senate Bill 376. Authored by Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., the bill gives schools with more than 80 percent of students qualifying for free and reduced-priced lunch the opportunity to serve free breakfast to every student.
“At Mineral Wells ISD we recognize that learning is hindered if students are hungry, so we will use the new rules to provide breakfast for any child who needs it,” Mineral Wells ISD Superintendent Dr. Gail Haterius said. “Some mothers and dads feed their children at home every day; others don't. With the new law each child will have the opportunity to have a nice breakfast to start their day off right.”
The law, otherwise known as “Breakfast for All,” is said to be a “win-win” for students and schools.
According to the CPPP, studies show that students who are well fed participate more in class and earn higher grades.
“In Texas, one in five children is at risk of going hungry, and serving breakfast at school means more children can enjoy a healthy meal and be ready to learn, and parents who are struggling to make ends meet don't have to worry that their child is going hungry until lunchtime,” CPPP Senior Policy Analyst Rachel Cooper said. “Serving breakfast is a win-win for everyone.”
The school “win” comes in because schools are reimbursed based on the number of meals served. If more students are served, reimbursement is increased.
The new law takes effect this fall. Consequently, the advocacy groups are working to answer questions regarding the law to ensure schools get the most out of it. This week, CPPP released “Making Breakfast Big in Texas,” a resource for those interested in ways that schools can serve each student breakfast while maximizing revenue.
“The implementation of SB 376 is essential in closing the gap of hungry children,” Children at Risk CEO Dr. Robert Sanborn said.”
“Expanding school breakfast participation in Texas schools is a proven tool to reduce the risk of hunger and boost academic outcomes for hundreds of thousands of low-income students,” Texas Food Bank Network CEO Celia Cole said. “We encourage every Texas school to take advantage of this opportunity to ensure every Texas child starts the school day nourished and ready to learn.”
Although some schools may need some more clueing in, Mineral Wells is already excited about the new law.
“I think it has the potential to be a successful program,” Haterius said. “This is one more way that we will take care of our children.”
For more information, visit www.forabettertexas.org/breafastforall.