BOSTON (AP) — A push to expand school breakfast programs in Massachusetts is making its way through the Legislature.
The Massachusetts Senate this week unanimously approved legislation aimed at increasing participation rates in the programs.
The bill would require public schools with 60 percent or more of students currently eligible for free or reduced-price meals under the federal National School Lunch Program to offer breakfast after the school bell rings.
Massachusetts currently requires all high-poverty schools to provide breakfast to every eligible student. Because breakfast is typically offered before the bell, participation levels are less than 40% compared to up to 90% participation for free and reduced lunch.
Supporters of the bill say moving breakfast to after the bell will boost participation and ensure all students have the nutrition they need.
The schools could use different options to offer breakfast after the tardy bell, including breakfast in the classroom, grab-and-go, and second-chance breakfast.
The federally reimbursed Breakfast After the Bell program could provide up to $30 million statewide to school districts that increase participation rates to 80 percent and more.
The House has approved its own version of the bill. The two chambers will now work to come up with a single compromise bill to send to Republican Gov. Charlie Baker.
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