Gov. John Hickenlooper has signed the bill known as "Breakfast After the Bell" into law.
The law means that schools with higher levels of impoverished children will be required — with some exceptions — to serve a free breakfast to all students after the start of the school day. Such programs have been shown to radically increase participation, and lawmakers note that children perform better after eating something in the morning.
Still the bill hasn't seen support from all corners.
Some school districts, including Colorado Springs School District 11, have complained that the bill does not provide additional funding for implementing the program. They say federal reimbursements won't cover the costs of Breakfast After the Bell, meaning it could hurt other nutrition programs. Read more here.
Hick Signs ‘Breakfast After the Bell’
(May 15) — A bill to help make sure more Colorado schoolkids get a decent breakfast was signed into law today by Gov. John Hickenlooper.
The governor went to Rose Hill Elementary School in Commerce City today to sign HB13-1006, sponsored by Reps. Dominick Moreno (D-Commerce City) and Tony Exum Sr. (D-Colorado Springs). The bill will phase in a requirement that schools where at least 80 percent of the students qualify for federal free or reduced-cost lunch will serve breakfast to all students after the official start of school.
Hungry children don’t learn as well as their better-fed peers, but many students who qualify for existing before-school breakfast programs don’t get to school in time to eat, some of them because of the stigma of acknowledging that their families are too poor to feed them. When the Adams 14 School District went from school breakfast before the bell to an after-the-bell meal, the participation rate went from 30 percent to 98 percent.
“Breakfast after the bell gives students from low-income families an equal chance to learn and succeed,” said Rep. Moreno, who qualified for free in-school meals on his way to becoming valedictorian of his high school class.
By serving breakfast during attendance-taking and announcements, schools that have already initiated Breakfast After the Bell have been able to do it with no reduction in instruction time.
“This is a significant part of making sure our students get a good education,” Rep. Exum said.
The vast majority of the cost of Breakfast After the Bell is covered by an existing federal program.