Breakfast after the Bell
Children can’t focus when they’re hungry. Yet in Massachusetts, 150,000 children are starting each school day with empty bellies. Breakfast After the Bell, also known as breakfast in the classroom, provides students at high poverty schools with free breakfast, at their desks, in the first 10-15 minutes of the school day.
Children can’t focus when they’re hungry. Yet in Massachusetts, 150,000 children are starting each school day with empty bellies. Breakfast After the Bell, also known as breakfast in the classroom, provides students at high poverty schools with free breakfast, at their desks, in the first 10-15 minutes of the school day. Feeding ALL children in the classroom eliminates stigma, reduces hunger-related visits to the school nurse, reduces rates of absence and tardiness, improves test scores, and increases feelings of classroom community.
Legislation filed in MA by Senator DiDomenico (S.267) and Reps Vargas and Vega(Holyoke) (H.591) would require all schools with 60% or higher free and reduced lunch populations to serve breakfast after the instructional day has begun, thereby guaranteeing that hungry children get the food they need, in an atmosphere that is calm.
Currently in MA, schools with 60% or higher free/reduced lunch population must offer breakfast, but most do so in the cafeteria before school starts. Breakfast before the bell typically has 20-30% participation rates due to tardiness, stigma, or wanting to be with friends. Moving breakfast after the bell increases participation to 80% or higher.
The legislation is needed because voluntary adoption of Breakfast After the Bell has been slow, with a low sense of urgency on the part of many high-poverty schools.
In Springfield, where the program is now implemented district-wide:
- Visits to the school nurse due to hunger have fallen 90% to-date during the 2018-2019 school year.
- Since Breakfast After the Bell was implemented, on average an additional $1.2 million/year in federal reimbursement funds has been brought into the district.
- Truancy rates and the number of students chronically absent dropped and the downward trend continues.
- The combined number of school suspensions fell, as did student arrests and bullying incidents.
How can you help?
- The Breakfast After the Bell bill is having a hearing at the State House on June 3 before the Joint Committee on Education. If you have experience with breakfast in the classroom, either through your work or your own children, we need your testimony! Fill out this form or contact Laura Sylvester at firstname.lastname@example.org if you can help!
- Contact members of the Joint Committee on Education, tell them you support S.267 and H.591, and ask them to recommend it favorably out of committee.
- Let us Know You Took Action. Please send a quick reply to email@example.com to let us know you took action.
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