Breakfast After the Bell Lobby Day
On March 6, Massachusetts legislators and the Rise and Shine Massachusetts coalition joined together at the Massachusetts State House for a legislative briefing and lobby day in support of S.267 and H.591, “Acts Regarding Breakfast After the Bell.” Filed by Senator Sal DiDomencio (D-Everett) and Representatives Aaron Vega (D-Holyoke) and Andy Vargas (D-Haverhill), this legislation would require more than 600 high-poverty public schools to offer breakfast after the start of the school day, reducing hunger during morning classes.
Advocates fanned out across the State House to garner support from state legislators and deliver breakfast muffins from Springfield Public Schools’ brand new Culinary and Nutrition Center.
“These muffins were lovingly baked at Springfield Public School’s (SPS) brand new Culinary and Nutrition Center, built in part with funds from additional federal reimbursements as a result of increased breakfast participation. This 62,000 square foot facility will provide about 60,000 meals to students each day.
Instead of trucking in pre-packaged processed food from Worcester and Rhode Island, SPS can now prepare local, fresh produce, operate a bakery, and improve food quality in their schools all from their in-house facility. The Center created 40 new jobs.
In SY16-17, SPS implemented Breakfast After the Bell districtwide. As a result, student participation in breakfast has risen from 20% district-wide to over 80%, serving more than 2 million more breakfasts annually. Bon appetit!”
Senator Sal DiDomenico, Rep Vega and Rep Vargas spoke to our advocates in support of Breakfast After the Bell:
“No child who shows up to school hungry can possibly be ready to learn,” said state Senator Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett), Assistant Majority Leader of the Massachusetts Senate and the Senate sponsor of the bill. “I have seen the success of breakfast after the bell in my own district, but we clearly have a lot of work to do to ensure that every child in the Commonwealth has access to a stigma-free breakfast. I am confident that this legislation will go a long way toward boosting our school breakfast participation rates and helping all kids receive the nutrition they need to begin their days, ready to learn.”
“Regardless of family income there should be, there needs to be, free and healthy food options for our children while they attend public schools. We recognize our mandate to feed those that are incarcerated with the State, and we don’t make some pay or work for their food. Why are we putting that kind of unnecessary burden and pressure on the youngest and most vulnerable among us,” said state Rep. Aaron Vega (D – Holyoke). “It is clear those students most affected by this food shaming are those already with food insecurities issues and other challenges that come with living in low income or poverty neighborhoods.”
“Breakfast after the bell offers districts the opportunity to feed more students and improve educational equity and outcomes— all while generating revenue. In Haverhill, access to breakfast and overall student nutrition are essential to the grade level reading campaign we’ve launched,” said state Rep. Andy Vargas (D – Haverhill), House sponsor of the bill and member of the Joint Committee of Education.
In other states who have passed similar legislation, significant gains have been made in their national ranking. For example, after passing legislation in Washington, D.C., they moved from 20th to 1st in the nation in breakfast participation. After passing legislation in Colorado, they moved from 20th to 11th in the nation in participation.
By passing Breakfast After the Bell, Massachusetts will help ensure that every child in the Commonwealth begins their day with the nutrition they need in order to learn.