Lawmakers, anti-hunger group want to expand school breakfast

    7:44 PM, Feb 27, 2013   |    comments
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    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- We've all heard that skipping breakfast is bad for you. Now, there's proof that skipping that important meal could impact Arkansas academic achievement.

    A new analysis conducted by the anti-hunger group, 'No Kid Hungry', shows having breakfast at school improves student attendance and graduation rates in Arkansas.

    Many schools in the state already offer free breakfast to students, but lawmakers and education leaders want to make that vital meal more accessible.

    Every morning students at Franklin Elementary in Little Rock get breakfast free of charge.

    "I'm not having to be concerned about if a kids not focused because they're hungry or they're thinking about, 'Oh, when's lunch?," said first-grade teacher Jenny Bulloch. "We don't have that problem anymore."

    Now, a group of Arkansas lawmakers and anti-hunger advocates are pushing to make breakfast in the classroom available for all students in the state.

    Democratic Senator Bobby Pierce is heading up the proposed bill and said he wants the state to contribute a million dollars to the program.

    "To have a teacher tell you to sit still, you can't do it, but yet we expect them to do it. When they're hungry they can't do it," he said.

    No Kid Hungry said only 55 percent of the children who qualify for free or reduced lunches in Arkansas, eat breakfast at school.

    State director Patty Barker said their goal is to raise that number to 70 percent.

    "Teachers across Arkansas, majority of the teachers say that students come to school hungry. They're not getting enough to eat at home, and most of those are saying they're coming to school hungry every week," she explained.

    Barker said it's well documented that breakfast helps children pay attention and learn more effectively.

    "It's been very positive for us here at Franklin. I'm very happy with it. I know the kids enjoy it. They get excited because they're eating breakfast in their classroom," said Bulloch.

    Last year, 61 schools in the state served breakfast in the classroom. No Kid Hungry wants to take their program to 120 schools this year.

    Senate Bill 428, is in the Joint Budget Committee, and a vote is expected Thursday.

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