Budget Proposal Includes $2M for School Breakfast Expansion
Gov. Tom Wolf moved to boost the state’s underutilized school breakfast program by investing $2 million as part of his 2017-18 budget proposal so that schools can reach more students and ensure they have access to the healthy meals they need to start their day right.
“Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in Pennsylvania applauds the governor’s attention to making sure more children have the nutrition they need to get the best possible start on learning,” said Director Tracey DePasquale. “For several years, our ELCA World Hunger teams across the Commonwealth have been promoting ways to improve school breakfast participation. This is surely good news for our work, which now includes engaging lawamkers.”
When children start the day with the nutrition they need, it has long-lasting consequences for the entire commonwealth,” said Bernadette Downey, Senior Manager, Advocacy, for Share Our Strength. “When kids get the food they need, they grow up smarter, healthier and stronger, and that means a smarter, healthier, stronger Pennsylvania.”
In his food security plan, “Setting the Table: A Blueprint for a Hunger-free PA,” which the administration unveiled in September 2016, the governor set a goal of ensuring that 60 percent of students benefiting from free and reduced priced school meals participate in school breakfast by 2020. Only about half of qualified students participate today.
The governor’s plan is a smart investment that could leverage millions in federal funds. The funding would help schools adopt and expand proven programs such as breakfast after the bell, breakfast in the classroom and grab-and-go models. Making breakfast a part of the school day by serving it “after the bell” in high-need schools ensures kids in need get consistent, dependable access to school breakfast.
Studies show undernourished children are less likely to learn as much or as fast, and a lack of enough healthy food can impair a child’s ability to concentrate and perform well in school. When kids aren’t getting the consistent nutrition they need, it’s harder to focus in class. Test scores drop, and students are more likely to miss class time because they’re in the nurse’s office with headaches or stomach aches. Discipline problems rise, while attendance levels fall.
“Something as simple as when school breakfast is served can make all the difference in the life of a hungry child. Food is a basic school supply, just like textbooks and pencils,” Downey said. “Making breakfast a part of the school day is the fastest, easiest way to dramatically improve the lives of thousands of kids in need in Pennsylvania.”