Front Burner Blog

Hungry Kids in Washington Can’t Wait

On February 16, the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) released their annual School Breakfast Scorecard, which measures how many low-income students participate in the federally funded School Breakfast Program. Nationally, school breakfast participation grew from 2014 to 2015, with 44 states increasing participation in their free and reduced-price school breakfast overall.

Sadly, Washington was not one of these states. In fact, we dropped from an already low 39th in the nation for school breakfast participation to 45th. In Washington, we pride ourselves on being a progressive, innovative, and cutting-edge state. Ranking 45th in the nation in feeding breakfast to one of our most vulnerable populations—children—is unacceptable.  

Luckily there is a simple fix. It’s called Breakfast After the Bell, and it works.

Breakfast After the Bell takes a program that already exists—school breakfast—and makes it more efficient and effective. Serving breakfast in the cafeteria before the school day begins presents many obstacles for kids and families. Bus and carpool schedules, social stigma, and peer pressure are barriers that prevent kids from eating breakfast. Moving breakfast after the bell removes these barriers and increases participation.

When students are able to get the nutrition they need every morning, they are better prepared to learn. Studies have proven that when students have regular access to school breakfast test scores rise, attendance rates climb, and discipline problems drop.

Breakfast After the Bell is a simple solution to a big problem. Many of the top performing states in the nation have adopted Breakfast After the Bell legislation and Washington can too. This week, the school breakfast bill (HB1295) had a hearing in the Senate Committee on Early Learning & K-12 Education on Tuesday; next it will move to the Senate Ways and Means Committee. This is the Breakfast After the Bell bill we’ve been fighting for and it contains policies that will drastically improve the way we connect kids to the morning nutrition they need. You can learn more about the legislation here.

This is a critical moment. This legislation is a momentous step forward in our work to end childhood hunger and build a stronger, healthier state. Now we need your help. The most important action we can take in the next 24 hours is to show public support for this bill. 

Take Action: We must propel this bill over the finish line. On Thursday, February 25, we need everyone to call or e-mail members of the Senate Ways & Means Committee, urging these members to support HB 1295. 

As a state, we spend so much time, effort and money on ways to better educate our kids. But if our children are too hungry to concentrate, the fight for success is over before the school day has even begun. When kids get enough of the healthy food they need each day, they feel better, learn more and grow up stronger. And a stronger generation of kids means a stronger, more competitive Washington.

The time to act is now —Washington’s hungry children cannot wait another year!

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