Tusk Philanthropies Commends Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker Signing Urgent Anti-Hunger Bill into Law
BOSTON, Aug. 5, 2020
150,000 Massachusetts students will now get Breakfast After the Bell
BOSTON, Aug. 5, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Tusk Philanthropies yesterday applauded Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker for signing Breakfast After the Bell legislation into law (H.4218). The bill goes into effect immediately due to an attached emergency preamble.
This legislation will be officially implemented in the 2022-2023 school year. It will 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. 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.
Before the pandemic, 1 in 9 children faced food insecurity in Massachusetts. Now, that number is 1 in 5. Massachusetts law requires high-poverty schools to provide breakfast to eligible students. But because breakfast is typically offered before the school day begins, just 40% of eligible students participate. More than ever, we are aware that solving the challenges contributing to lower participation is critical as communities struggle to recover from this crisis.
"This is a win for Massachusetts. Pre-pandemic, this bill made a lot of sense. The pandemic has only furthered the urgency and need for this bill, as we grapple with rising food insecurity, school funding challenges, and the need to limit cafeteria use to contain the virus. For years to come, we know Breakfast After the Bell will help close achievement gaps, improve physical and mental health, and even better students' earning potential as adults," said bill sponsor Rep. Andy Vargas. "In a time of uncertainty, we must give the children of Massachusetts the best opportunities and means to succeed."
"150,000 students will now have access to breakfast. This legislation is the most impactful way to ensure that kids eat breakfast at school, while also tapping into an estimated $25 million in USDA reimbursements every year. This was the win we needed right now," said bill sponsor Rep. Aaron Vega.
"No child who shows up to school hungry can possibly be ready to learn," said Senator Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett). "I have seen firsthand the success of breakfast after the bell in my own district, and I am confident this new law will ensure that thousands of children across Massachusetts will now have access to the nutritious and stigma-free breakfast that they need to start their day. This policy has been one of my foremost legislative priorities for many years now, and I am grateful to everyone who played a role in making this day a reality for our Commonwealth's students."
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.
"Getting this bill over the finish line has never been more timely. In a time of unprecedented unemployment and food insecurity, this legislation will contribute to children's well-being and educational success in Massachusetts," said Tusk. "I want to thank Governor Charlie Baker for signing this much-needed effort into law and to Senator Sal DiDomenico and Representatives Aaron Vega and Andy Vargas for sponsoring the bill. Thank you also to the Chairs of the Joint Committee on Education Senator Jason Lewis and Representative Alice Peisch, as well as Senate President Karen Spilka and Speaker Robert DeLeo, and Ways and Means Chairs Senator Michael Rodrigues and Representative Aaron Michelwitz.
"Breakfast after the Bell will have an enormous impact on the health and food security of our kids in Massachusetts at what a time when more families than ever are at risk of experiencing hunger. School Breakfast fuels learning for the day and relieves the household grocery budget to help families afford other living expenses," said Erin McAleer, President at Project Bread. "We have been working school by school, district by district for over a decade to increase access to Breakfast because the potential benefit is so significant. Now we can scale that work with urgency so that all students have the chance to learn unencumbered by hunger."
Dani Frese | firstname.lastname@example.org
SOURCE Tusk / Montgomery Philanthropies