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Massachusetts House Unanimously Passes Critically Needed Anti-Hunger Bill

As many as 150,000 Massachusetts students would get Breakfast After the Bell if passed

BOSTON, Nov. 20, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Tusk Philanthropies today applauded the Massachusetts House of Representatives for unanimously passing An Act Regarding Breakfast After the Bell (H.4218). The bill moves on to the Senate.

1 in 9 children faces food insecurity in Massachusetts. Massachusetts law requires high-poverty schools to provide breakfast to eligible students. But because breakfast is typically offered before the school day begins, just 39% of eligible students participate. Serving breakfast for all students after the bell, as part of the school day, has a proven track record of dramatically increasing breakfast participation among the children that need it most.

An Act Regarding Breakfast After the Bell would require all public K-12 schools in Massachusetts with 60% or more students eligible for free or reduced-price meals under the federal National School Lunch Program to offer breakfast after the school day has begun.

"Breakfast participation doubled, from 42% to 85%, in one Haverhill school after it implemented Breakfast After the Bell," said bill sponsor Rep. Andy Vargas. "This program produces results that close achievement and opportunity gaps. Kids who consistently eat breakfast see improvements in academic scores, improved physical and mental health, better school attendance, higher graduation rates, and even better earning potential as adults. This legislation is a no brainer. It is the best thing we can do for our students."

"We expect kids across our student body to come to school ready to learn. But if they haven't eaten, they are focused on their hunger, not their studies," said bill sponsor Rep. Aaron Vega. "Breakfast After the Bell legislation will ensure that low-income students across the state start their day with breakfast, while tapping into an estimated $25 million in USDA reimbursements every year. It's a win-win."

Project Bread led the legislative effort in partnership with Tusk Philanthropies, the family foundation of venture capitalist and political strategist Bradley Tusk. Tusk Philanthropies has seen recent success securing Breakfast After the Bell for students in Maine, New Jersey, Tennessee, Washington, Illinois, and Pennsylvania, and expanded access to food stamps in North Carolina. For nearly 25 years, Project Bread has been partnering with the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to implement breakfast after the bell programs in districts and schools across the state. Their efforts to pass Breakfast After the Bell legislation have been supported by the Greater Boston Food Bank and non-profit partners in the Rise & Shine coalition.

"This bill has the potential to expand access to breakfast for as many as 150,000 students," said Tusk. "I want to thank Representatives Aaron Vega and Andy Vargas for sponsoring the bill. Thank you also to Speaker Robert DeLeo, House Ways and Means Chair Aaron Michlewitz, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Education Alice Peisch, and Representatives Paul Tucker, Adrian Madaro, Marjorie Decker, and Mindy Domb for their support. This is a critical bill for the well-being and educational success of Massachusetts students. We look forward to getting this over the finish line next year." 

"It is especially fitting that this bill passed the House on the same day that the Massachusetts legislature passed the historic Student Opportunity Act," said Project Bread President Erin McAleer. "Breakfast After the Bell would guarantee that this $1.5 billion investment in our education system is a success by making sure that our kids start their days on full stomachs, ready to learn."

Media Contact:
Kate Preziosi | Kate@tuskstrategies.com

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SOURCE Tusk Philanthropies