2nd Annual Massachusetts School Breakfast Report Card
Today, Thursday, May 3, The Eos Foundation released their Second Annual Massachusetts School Breakfast Report Card, “Ending Hunger in Our Classrooms: Expanding After the Bell Breakfast to Fuel Student Learning.” The report includes a definitive ranking of the state’s 638 high poverty schools on their school breakfast participation rates – a measure of success for alleviating childhood hunger.
“Today, more students in Massachusetts’ high poverty schools are eating breakfast than at any point over the last 10 years,” states the report.
However, despite recent increases in school breakfast participation, over 150,000 low-income students are still missing a nutritious meal at the start each school day.
The report highlights childhood hunger as a contributor to the achievement gap and calls for the adoption of free breakfast after the bell across the state’s highest poverty schools (those with 60 percent or more of students qualifying for free or reduced-price meals).
New Bedford takes the #1 rank this year with 82% of students participating in breakfast. Everett and Holyoke showed some of the greatest gains this year, which are attributed to adoption of after the bell breakfast in the classroom.
The report confirms most Massachusetts schools still offer breakfast before the bell, which significantly limits student access and participation. By moving breakfast to after the bell, all students have equal access to the meal and participation rates soar, leading to better academic and health outcomes for kids.
If all high poverty schools adopted and ran optimal after the bell programs they could bring in an additional $25-$32 million in federal reimbursements to cash-strapped district nutrition departments statewide.
The Massachusetts Senate Committee on Ways and Means is currently reviewing legislation, S.2441 An Act Regarding Breakfast After the Bell, that would require high-poverty schools to adopt this best practice.