HB 1508, commonly referred to as the “Breakfast After the Bell” bill, would expand highly successful programs that help students from low-income families receive nutritious meals in the morning to more schools across Washington state.
“When hungry kids are focused on where their next meal is coming from, they aren’t focused on learning,” said Stonier. “As a lifelong educator who works with public school students every day, it’s amazing to see how a snack and a piece of fruit can transform a child’s day.”
Hungry students do not achieve the same level of academic success as those who eat healthy meals for breakfast. As poverty and homelessness among children has increased, so has the number of students who go without meals in the morning.
Nearly 300,000 kids in Washington state live in food–insecure homes and almost half of Washington’s 1.1 million public school students qualify for free and reduced price meals at school. Washington state has nearly 40,000 homeless students.
“Today’s vote in the Senate reinforces what I’ve known for years,” said Stonier. “There is strong bipartisan support among lawmakers to make sure kids aren’t hungry at school. While I’m disappointed it took this long to pass the bill, I’m pleased this proven program will now be in more schools. No student should ever be hungry at school.”
Breakfast After the Bell offers nutritious meals to students without interrupting instructional time. Breakfast programs for low-income children are reimbursed in part or full by the federal government, and currently have low utilization rates.
Breakfast After the Bell is expected to increase participation in those existing programs. By moving breakfast after the bell, instead of before, students will receive a healthy meal without having to stand in line and miss instructional opportunities.
Stonier’s bill was the first bill approved in the House of Representatives in the 2018 legislative session. Bills to help hungry students improve in school have died in the Republican-controlled Senate for the last several years. Stonier’s bill finally received a floor vote today with Democrats now in control of the Senate.
HB 1508 was amended by the Senate, which means it will return to the House for concurrence before going to the governor for his signature.