HOUSTON (PRNewswire-USNewswire) — Food insecurity continues to be a growing problem for Texas families, with the state ranking eighth in food hardship in the country. Roughly three million public school students in Texas live at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty level, and therefore qualify for federally funded free or reduced price school meals. SB 376, authored by Eddie Lucio (House sponsor, Eddie Rodriguez), expands the current breakfast program, and was signed into law on Friday, May 24 th by Governor Rick Perry.
Statewide, there are 2,811 schools with eighty percent or more of their student population eligible for free or reduced price meals. With many of these schools already offering breakfast to all students, approximately 1,000 campuses will be impacted by SB 376. This means over one million more students will now have the opportunity to start their day with a nutritious breakfast. This bill will have no fiscal impact on the state. The schools costs are typically offset by future reimbursement rates.
"This is a huge victory for Texas children, and we should all applaud Governor Perry for signing into law one of this year's most important pieces of legislation," said Bob Sanborn, president and CEO of CHILDREN AT RISK. "I'm extremely proud of CHILDREN AT RISK, as we led a collaborative effort in getting this bill signed into law."
With last year's state school breakfast program participation rate of 59.7%, Texas received a reimbursement of $460,290,681. With increased student participation, this number will potentially rise to $600 million. In addition to being cost neutral to schools at the 80% threshold, SB 376 is good for Texas, and its children. A few of the many benefits associated with the school breakfast program include:
- Increased attentiveness and academic performance
- Reducing hunger and improving health
- Reduced school nurse visits, and disciplinary problems
- Supports the agriculture and dairy Industries
- Provides opportunities for innovative public-private partnerships