Lauren McGowan is the Director of Family Stability for United Way of King County. She’s recently testified on a house bill that could extend breakfast in schools for thousands of low-income children.
There is nothing more frustrating than failing our future – especially when we know how to help them. Unfortunately that is what we are doing in Washington when it comes to feeding hungry kids. One in five kids struggles with hunger. The School Breakfast Program is designed to provide kids with the fuel they need to succeed but WA ranks 45th in the nation in feeding school breakfast to low income students.
How can we be doing so poorly at feeding kids? The current school breakfast program happens in the cafeteria before school starts. Barriers – like transportation and social stigma – prevent the kids who need it most from accessing the program. The good news is that we know how to fix this. Yesterday I was in Olympia testifying on a bill that could help turn that around. House Bill 1295 – Breakfast After the Bell – would guarantee that low income students have easy access to school breakfast by making it part of the school day – just like lunch.
Breakfast After the Bell has broad support – from more than 60 groups across Washington State. Parents, Teachers, Union Leaders, Anti-Hunger Advocates, Faiith Leaders, and Business leaders agree – Breakfast After the Bell is a smart solution. This week Rob McKenna, former Attorney General and current United Way of King County Board Member, expressed his support in The Seattle Times.
We know that this bill is a smart and cost effective solution to addressing childhood hunger. For $2.4 million in one-time state funds we could leverage $20 million in federal dollars annually. Local and National research show that schools with higher breakfast participation also have better educational outcomes – fewer absences, better test scores.
For three years partisan politics have gotten in the way of passing Breakfast After the Bell. Let’s not ask hungry kids to wait any longer for this smart solution. The House passed Breakfast After the Bell earlier this session. We need your help calling on the Senate to do the same.
- We must propel this bill over the finish line. On Thursday, February 25, we need everyone to call, email and send Tweets to members of the Senate Ways & Means committee, urging these members to support HB1295.
Solving poverty requires a complex set of interventions and solutions. Feeding hungry students doesn’t. Breakfast After the Bell is a win for students, teachers, schools districts, and our community. Join United Way of King County in urging Senators to support 1295 – Breakfast After the Bell. Hungry kids can’t wait!