FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 11, 2013
General Counsel & Press Secretary
AUSTIN — Today, a report by the Center for Public Policy Priorities endorsed expanding Texas public schools' participation in the federal School Breakfast Program, legislation filed by Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. (D-Brownsville). Senator Lucio announced the filing of a bill which would expand the Program last month.
CPPP's report, The Curious Case of No-Charge School Breakfast: How Serving More for Less Pays Off, concludes:
Legislation has been filed in both the Texas House and Senate which will require school campuses with 80 percent or more of their students eligible for free or reduced-priced meals to offer breakfast to all students at no charge. The legislation allows schools to choose the delivery model which best suits their campus . . . .
If the proposed legislation were passed in Texas the effects would be dramatic, as it is estimated that if every school with 80 percent or more of its student qualifying for free or reduced-priced meals were to offer breakfast at no charge, an additional 731,000 students would be guaranteed a nutritious start to their school day. In addition to a significant increase in participation, Texas would increase the amount of federal funds going to local Texas schools by $203 million, easing demands on school budgets.
Senator Lucio's Senate Bill 376 would require that all school districts and open-enrollment charter schools participating in the federal School Breakfast Program provide universal free breakfast, if 80 percent or more of that school's students qualify for free or reduced-price meals. Very similar legislation, House Bill 296, has been filed by Representative Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin).
"We need to ensure that every Texas child has the resources they need to reach their full potential. This begins with a nutritious breakfast. It has been shown that providing access to nutritious food increases students' concentration, and reduces students' absences and discipline problems," Senator Lucio said last month. "We need to give these students every available resource if they are to raise themselves out of poverty through education."
CPPP's report outlines several benefits to schools who offer free breakfast to all students. For example:
- campus administrators spend less time implementing the Program;
- teachers lose less instructional time refocusing hungry students;
- students no longer feel the stigma often associated with receiving free or reduced-price lunch; and
- parents save hundreds of dollars per year on food expenses.
Senate Bill 376 has already been endorsed by expert nutrition advocates during a Capitol Hunger Roundtable Summit organized by Senator Lucio's office last month.