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RSMA Urges Leadership to Take Up BAB Bill

June 30, 2020 / Uncategorized

The Rise and Shine Massachusetts coalition sent a letter to key lawmakers, urging them to take up Breakfast After the Bell as the Legislature revisits bills that were being considered prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. An excerpt is below, and you can read the full letter here.

Dear Speaker DeLeo, Senate President Spilka, Chairs Peisch and Lewis, and other honorable members;

As the Legislature begins to look again at bills that were being considered prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, we, the undersigned Rise and Shine Massachusetts coalition, urge you to pass S.2473 and H.4218, acts regarding breakfast after the bell, as soon as possible. After passing unanimously in both the House and the Senate, it is clear there is tremendous support for this bill. With these bills now in their third reading, we ask that you prioritize its reconciliation and bring it to the floor for a final vote as soon as possible.

The COVID-19 crisis has forced us to recognize many undeniable truths–from racial disparities in our public health system to the fragile economic position of far too many Massachusetts residents. Now more than ever, we must acknowledge the critical role schools play in identifying and alleviating childhood food insecurity. Today, 1 in 5 children in Massachusetts are at risk of food insecurity. That number is unacceptable. However, even prior to the pandemic, that number was 1 in 9, and more than 150,000 children relied on school meals as their primary source of nutrition.

As schools reopen and decide how best to keep students and staff safe, breakfast after the bell will surely be part of the equation, as large groups of children eating in congregate sites like a cafeteria cannot happen safely. Serving breakfast after the bell eliminates the stigma students can feel by being seen as someone who qualifies for free or reduced-price meals. We know that eating breakfast together in the intimate confines of the classroom increases the feeling of community and students form bonds from the casual conversation that happens when people “break bread” together.

Breakfast After the Bell makes good financial sense as well. As a federally reimbursed program, the National School Breakfast Program has the potential to leverage up to $25 million to Massachusetts school districts. These payments are made directly to school nutrition departments, helping to support jobs, update kitchen equipment, and provide healthier menu options. With our economy so adversely impacted by the pandemic, Massachusetts cannot afford to leave any federal money on the table.

Finally, we know that COVID-19 disproportionately impacts poorer communities and communities of color – communities that experience the greatest gap between what support is needed and the support they receive. Passing Breakfast After the Bell will help us move to a more equitable society and a more equitable public education system, one in which all students get the nutrition they need to succeed. We urge you take action now.

Should you have any questions or would like additional information, please contact Catherine Drennan, Director of Communications and Public Affairs, The Greater Boston Food Bank at cdrennan@gbfb.org.

Sincerely,
Rise and Shine Massachusetts Coalition

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