UPDATE: School breakfast bill clears Senate, headed to House

Would allow school districts to use 15 minutes of education time for kids to eat breakfast

UPDATE POSTED 10 A.M. FRIDAY, FEB. 25, 2022

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – A simple measure to improve learning through an important meal cleared the state Senate Friday and now goes to the House.

“Today, we are joining many child hunger advocates, schools, and families in celebrating passage of Senate Bill 151 by the Kentucky Senate. The latest data show that nearly 273,000 eligible Kentucky kids are missing out on eating school breakfast, and, in many cases, it’s because they can’t get to school early enough due to long bus rides and other circumstances out of their control. SB 151, sponsored by Senator Jason Howell, clarifies the current law to simply give school districts the option to serve students on free and reduced meals their breakfast during the first 15 minutes of the day,” Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, said of the passage of the measure.

By allowing schools the administrative flexibility to use up to 15 minutes for students to have breakfast in the classroom, such as while attendance is being taken, students won’t miss out on a free meal or important instructional time and can be set up for more academic success, supporters have said in pushing the bill through the Legislature with no opposition.

ORIGINAL STORY POSTED FEB. 9, 2022

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – A simple change in state law could go along way to addressing hunger and learning for thousands of Kentucky students…

The proposals would allow school districts to let students eat breakfast during the 15 minutes of school period. Many students get to school late for a variety of reasons, from long bus rides to tardy parents or rides, and don’t have time to go to the cafeteria to get and eat breakfast. Some others spend the few minutes in the morning with friends.

For the estimated 273,000 students who go to school hungry every day, not getting breakfast makes school even harder.

“If a child comes to school hungry in the morning and the only meal they get might be lunch and they are starving at home, learning is the last thing on their mind,” state Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Ryan Quarles said during a press conference Wednesday.

Bill sponsors said they expect the proposals to begin making their way through the legislature within the next two weeks.

Feeding Kentucky, the state’s largest hunger-fighting organization, is supporting the legislation to remove the “barrier to breakfast” in Kentucky schools. The organization is working with Quarles, state Sen. Jason Howell and state Rep. Steve Riley to clarify state law and ensure school districts have the option to serve students breakfast during the first 15 minutes of instructional time during the school day.

The ultimate goal of the legislation is to ensure more students on free and reduced meals can eat breakfast.

Feeding Kentucky hosted a press conference to support Senate Bill 151 and House Bill 435. Currently, school districts across the Commonwealth say they do not know if breakfast during instructional time is permitted by state law. Howell filed the legislation in the Senate and  Riley filed the bill in the House. Both legislators noted this is an easy fix that everyone can support.

“Far too many students across Kentucky are missing the most important meal of the day because they cannot get to school early enough for the scheduled breakfast time,” noted Howell.

“In fact, only 6 of 10 students who are eligible for free and reduced meals eat breakfast. Long bus rides and other circumstances out of students’ control should not be a factor here. All of our students should have the opportunity to eat breakfast,” Riley added.

An estimated 272,938 children in Kentucky miss school breakfast. If the legislation passes, each district will determine if the policy to allow breakfast during the first 15 minutes of instructional time is needed for their students.

A number of other organizations throughout the state have already expressed their support for this legislation, including Kentucky Youth Advocates, Kentucky Community Farm Alliance, and No Kid Hungry.

The full press conference can be viewed here.

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