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Texas Kids Will Soon Be Less Hungry

by: Emily Cadik

Thu Mar 13, 2014 at 03:30 PM CDT

School Breakfast Week might now be over, but there is plenty to celebrate in terms of efforts to fight hunger among students.

A bill that was passed last year, spearheaded by State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, will soon expand school breakfast in Texas for those who need it most. Starting this fall for the 2014 - 2015 school year, schools in which more than 80 percent of students qualify for free or reduced price lunch will be required to offer free breakfast to every student every day. To help schools expand their breakfast programs, the Center for Public Policy Priorities recently released Making Breakfast Big in Texas, a resource that offers best practices for schools to reach as many students as possible.

This expansion comes at a time when one in five Texas children faces hunger. Meanwhile, children who eat breakfast are shown to have better behavior, grades and attention spans. Hunger itself is bad enough, but for kids in school - missing out on breakfast can mean much more.

There's more after the jump.

Recent cuts to the Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program have drawn attention to the persistent hunger problem in the U.S., and particularly in Texas. While school breakfasts clearly can't reach all hungry Texans (namely the adults), they are critical in reaching some of the most vulnerable.

"Expanding school breakfast participation in Texas schools is a proven tool to reduce the risk of hunger and boost academic outcomes for hundreds of thousands of low-income students," said Celia Cole, CEO of the Texas Food Bank Network. "We encourage every Texas school to take advantage of this opportunity to ensure every Texas child starts the school day nourished and ready to learn."

But reaching every students who needs breakfast can be a challenge. School breakfasts are often served very early before school begins, so that many students miss their meal if they arrive closer to the time classes start. To get around this issue, several school districts have begun piloting breakfast in the classroom programs, allowing students to take advantage of the school breakfast program once most of them have actually arrived. San Angelo ISD, for instance, launched a "Breakfast of Champions" program, in which student volunteer "breakfast managers" delivered meals to classrooms each morning, allowing them to reach 78 percent of students.

Serving and consuming breakfast generally takes less than fifteen minutes, and some teachers have even used the time to offer educational activities like puzzles or nutrition instruction. And those fifteen minutes can make a difference for the rest of the day - and beyond.

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